I attended the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols in St. Boniface (CofE) Church this evening. The church was packed. Superbly directed by Dr. Hugh Benham, the carol service certainly defines Christmas musically for Chandler’s Ford.
(If you missed the carol service this year, try not to miss it next year. Trust me, you won’t regret it.)
The service lasted an hour, and included most of the best-known carols for the congregation and choir to sing, plus five short pieces for choir only, and the traditional Christmas readings.
The St. Boniface Choir is a well established group known for its glorious voice. In this service, the choir sang the following pieces:
- Unto us is born a son
- Ring, Christmas Bells
- Still the night, holy the night
- Star Carol
‘Ring, Christmas Bells’ is a rather challenging piece, but the choir did a brilliant performance without missing a beat. I noticed that after the carol, some people started clapping hands but then suddenly stopped as they thought ‘oh no, we’re in the church. Shouldn’t clap hands in the church.’ But you get the feeling why people had the urge to clap (I was one of them). The choir’s delivery was simply sublime.
Here is a version of Ring Christmas Bells (Carol Of The Bells) – by Ray Conniff Singers.
It was the first time I heard a very different version to ‘Silent Night’. The lyrics in ‘Still the night, holy the night’ is beautiful and I really like this version. The different lyrics were very enjoyable to listen to, and again, the choir sang magnificently.
When I got home, I listened to the song in the original language – German. Ah, it is beautiful in German. (I like the sound of the word ‘nacht’.)
‘Still the night, holy the night’ was translated from the German “Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht”, Rev. Joseph Mohr, c.1816. Translator: Unknown.
1. Still the night, Holy the night,
Sleeps the world, hid from sight,
Mary and Joseph in stable bare,
Watch o’er the child, beloved and fair,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.
2. Still the night, Holy the night,
Shepherds first saw the light,
Heard resounding clear and strong,
Far and near, the Angels song,
Christ the Redeemer is here,
Christ the Redeemer is here.
3. Still the night, Holy the night,
Son of God, love’s pure light,
Love is smiling from thy face,
Strikes for us now the hour of grace,
Saviour since thou art born,
Saviour since thou art born.
Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols triggered your senses for Christmas, and gave you all the feeling of a proper traditional Christmas.
After the recessional “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” was sung, a few of us went up to thank Hugh Benham for such a beautiful, memorable evening. And we clapped hands this time.
There’ll be more music coming up – there’ll be Epiphany Carols on Sunday 8th January at St. Boniface Church at 6.30pm.
At the parish church, you’ll also feel the joy of Christmas through beautifully arranged flowers. Vicar Ian Bird told me the names of two of the flower arrangers, Alan and Peter (and my homework is to find out the name of the flower arranger of the other bouquet at the church’s entrance.) Here are three photos of Christmas flowers I took this evening for you to enjoy.
Did you attend any carol service this year? Or are you attending any? Share your experience with us.
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