This week we went to a carol service in Westminster Abbey. It was quite as lovely as you are imagining (if not a little lovelier).
Of course, it began as so many carol services do, with a solo chorister piping out the opening verse of Once In Royal David’s City. Again: lovely.
Let’s have a classic rendition for this one (though the Sufjan Stevens version is predictably charming, and is probably my ultimate favourite).
My secondary school marked the end of each Autumn term with a service of 9 Lessons and Carols at the church down the road from my house. The lessons were read by a pupil from each year, two teachers and two parents. The “carols” – and I use the term deliberately loosely – were provided by various combinations of the school musical groups.
I cannot think about those services without a having a quiet laugh to myself. I’m sure that they weren’t entirely ridiculous, but my brain has chosen to retain only the most ludicrous memories.
These include, but are not limited to:
- Giggling uncontrollably at the end of the first reading, every single year. “Your children will crush his children’s heads, and his children will bite your children’s heels. ThanksbetoGod.”
- Singing TORches TORches! So aggressive! So jaunty! So shrill! Ah row, row row.
- Playing Disco 2000 on the steel drums. Because what could be more Christmassy?
Never once did we have a haunting, perfectly pitched solo from a precocious boy chorister. But the services were perfect. Perfect. Jumbled and messy and silly and rough around the edges. Exactly what I want from my Christmas celebrations.