A Christmas carol, anyone?

>> Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Last night I took a break from explaining to my Boys why Santa may not be bringing them every single item in the Lego and Power Ranger catalogues, and went to a Christmas carol service at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. It was to raise funds for Home Start who, 'through a network of nearly 16,000 trained parent volunteers, support thousands of parents who are struggling to cope. The families they help need support for many reasons including post-natal illness, disability, bereavement, the illness of a parent or child, or social isolation. Parents supporting other parents - to help build a family's confidence and ability to cope'.

Home Start is a fantastic charity and the carol service was a wonderful experience, even more so because we're leaving London so soon. Just to add to the sense of theatre, it was held in The Chapel at the Royal Hospital.

I experienced something of a Susan Boyle moment as it started. The Chapel Choir processed into the church by candle-light and as they entered, stopped at the doorway. One of their members, an unpreposessing middle-aged woman, stepped forward and nervously raised her hymn sheet in front of her.

I have to admit that at this moment, my heart was in my mouth for her. I mean, really, not having heard this choir before I had no idea what to expect. Obviously I should have known better, for she took a breath and, unaccompanied, sang the first verse of 'Once in Royal David's City', beautifully. Just as beautifully, in fact, as any boy soprano chorister that I've heard.

The lesson, I suppose, is not to judge a book by it's cover...

There were readings too; at one point the friend I was with whispered that it was rather like listening to a 'best of' on Radio Four. They included The Nativity sketch by Joyce Grenfell (a hero of mine - click here for a poor attempt by me at writing in her style), and a parody of 'The Night Before Christmas' written and read by Richard Stilgoe which unfortunately I couldn't find on Youtube, but which ended with the immortal words '...I must have been barmy, to end the night eating three Peperami.'

We were also treated with one of my favourite Christmas-themed monologues; 'The Journey of the Magi' by TS Eliot. If you've never heard it I can recommend it; it will give you food for thought whatever your religious inclination...

8 comments:

Real estate Toronto 8 December 2009 at 14:04  

I have got also beautiful experience with Christmas choir. When I was in Finland in Turku several years ago I was in the old cathedral and heard singing the local student choir. It was something amazing. And now when I enter to some old cathedral I always remember the great feeling.

Have a nice day,
Julie

The Dotterel 8 December 2009 at 14:05  

A cold coming we had of it....
Did the chorister's voice condense on the cold night air as she sang?

planb 8 December 2009 at 14:25  

Journey of the Magi was the first poem i studied at secondary school and the first poem ever to give me goose bumps. Still does... Thank you for reminding me....

Potty Mummy 8 December 2009 at 14:57  

Hi Julie, thanks for commenting, and these memories have a habit of surfacing at this time year...

TD, now that you mention it, yes it did. Sorry - does that make this post even more of a cliche?

PlanB, a pleasure. I remember the first time I ever heard it - at a carol service at my convent school, which now I come to think it was an interesting choice for the nuns to make - and it did the same to me.

Vic 8 December 2009 at 16:03  

What do you mean Santa won't bring every single item in the lego catalogue? What do I tell the boy? More importantly, what do I tell the husband?

London City Mum 8 December 2009 at 20:31  

Know the feeling when you are so taken by heavenly voices all the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Lovely (says the miserable cow who would quite happily go somewhere hot and not Christmassy for a non-celebration...).

LCM x

Lakeland Jo 8 December 2009 at 21:11  

lovely post- and thanks for the poem too

Potty Mummy 8 December 2009 at 22:38  

Vic, don't worry - tell them the tooth fairy will make up the shortfall...

LCM, it's gorgeous, isn't it? Although of course I had left all my tissues at home so absolutely could not let myself well up too much...

LJ, a pleasure, really.

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