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Seasons Greetings


DaveHarries
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Afternoon all,

 

Having spent this morning at Bristol Cathedral (W.A Mozart - "Missa Brevis in B flat" K275 with choir + organ + orchestra for anyone wondering what the music was) may I take this opportunity to wish everyone on this board, plus all at Mander Organs, a very Merry Christmas and all the best for 2015.

 

Dave

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Happy Christmas (yes, it is still Christmas until 5th Jan) from me. @Dav id - I've only played for one Carol Service actually during the Christmas season - Hadstock PC in Essex on the Sunday following Christmas. Dn;t know if they still do that - it was over 10 years ago.

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Hadstock used to have a very small Thomas Jones organ, whose principal interest was that the blower was controlled by a "drawstop" from a motor accessory shop labelled "Choke". One-time priest-in-charge John Sibson came from there to St. Leonard-at-the-Hythe, Colchester, where I was at the time, and he said that the original blower was an agricultural threshing motor situated in an outhouse in the church-yard, capable of blowing the entire instrument sky-high. The present Hill organ at Hadstock came from Gayton in Norfolk and was installed by Holmes & Swift, who also moved the Jones to the RC church at Halesworth, Suffolk, where it still is.

 

I suppose that the practice of having the Carol Service after Christmas (or, more correctly, "during" Christmas) is a High Church tradition. We are, I suppose, moderately High - vestments but no bells or smells, Prayer Book at all principal services (Deo Gracias!) - but it would be interesting to know if the tradition is preserved in spikey strongholds. I sometimes think we should move with the times, but the present arrangement does give us a little more time to rehearse (we have an elaborate Advent Procession, which takes more rehearsal than Nine Lessons and Carols, and also a Candlemas Procession, so timing is important) and several people have said that they appreciate having the carol service after Christmas rather than in the hectic run-up to it.

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Thanks David

 

It was the Hill that was there when I played for their carol service.

 

From my point of view as an Evangelical, much as I'd prefer to celebrate Advent properly, the opportunity to present the gospel message to those who probably don;t go to church except in the run-up to Christmas is more important than church traditions. The secularisation of Christmas means that for most people, it's over by Boxing Day, sadly. Looks like the church we're attending in our retirement is a little like that - only one carol (Joy to the World) on Sunday - and we've already sung that on Christmas morning. They will get some Epiphany stuff on Jan 4th though - the minister is on holiday, and I'm taking the service & preaching (first time since I retired atthe end of March).

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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You're right, Tony, and every year I wonder about pushing for a change in policy so that we sing the Carol Service on the Sunday before Christmas, but each year I get pleasantly surprised at how many turn out on the Sunday after Christmas. It was the same this year - larger-than-last-year congregations all round over Christmas, including the Carol Service - so I guess I shan't rock the boat quite yet.

 

One of my sopranos has a daughter who just celebrated her first birthday and was therefore qualified to be an Angel in the Christmas Pageant (and promoted to Cow next year, probably), but got tired of it and came and sat on the organ bench next to me instead (she only started walking three weeks ago).

 

I've got a Groupie!

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Last year I suggested to my (evangelical, low) church that we should do something original for Christmas so the Sunday evening before Christmas my wife and I arranged a service of nine lessons and carols. It was a complete culture shock for many people - we formed a "come and sing" choir and got some of the young people who played instruments to form a miniture orchestra (string quartet plus a couple of flutes and trumpets). It was a huge amount of effort, not least because I arranged all the music myself and had to spend time with most of the musicians and singers teaching them harmony line by line - but was actually a huge success which we repeated - successfully - again this year.

 

But the thing that surprised me the most was just how little the children knew of Christmas carols; even the common ones (the ones we think are comon - Hark the herald, It came upon etc) had to be taught them line by line.

 

But then, when I was younger all the shops would be playing carols non-stop from mid-November onwards. Nowadays it's a rare shop that plays carols, everything is about Santa, Rudolph and mistletoe. In which case why should we expect our younger generations to recognise the sound and tunes of Christmas carols?

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A couple of years ago I was called on at two hours' notice (!) to accompany a local secondary school's carol service. It was being held in a nearby church, and to fit everyone in there had to be another service the following day as well. My son who taught there was the one who called me in, because it was most unfortunate that the student who was intending to play had gone down with a winter bug. (This proves that occasionally it's handy to have a dad who does geeky things like playing the organ ... ).

 

Anyway, the thing which surprised me most was how well and strongly the youngsters sang. I had assumed, on the basis of no evidence whatever, that they would be more or less mute. A quite naughty and thoroughly patronising assumption as it turned out. In fact the roof nearly came off during 'Hark the Herald', and I had to use every octave coupler and mixture in sight even to allow me to hear the instrument I was playing.

 

Pondering why this was so, I could only assume that most traditional carols are fairly easy to learn, so that after a verse or two the children had picked up the tunes and then they suddenly realised how good it was to sing at the top of their voices. It was a most enjoyable experience and one which I shall not easily forget. It seemed to be a similar phenomenon to what I observe on television during the various 'the choir' and 'the voice' types of popular programmes.

 

CEP

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It may have been a, possibly unconscious, herd thing. When I was at school, every morning there was Assembly with two hymns, accompanied by organ and full orchestra. The singing, as a rule, was not bad at all, but at one point the sixth form seemed to decide that having a good belt at a hymn was fun. Thus reinforced from the back of the hall, the whole thing bucked up quite noticeably and became rather impressive.

 

The moral of this is - and this was a boys' school - if young people decide that singing is cool, the sky's the limit.

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Happy Christmas (yes, it is still Christmas until 5th Jan) from me.

 

 

For those of us of the Latin (and Orthodox) tradition Christmas lasts for 40 days - until the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin. i.e February 2nd. Our Nativity scenes remain in churches and people are encouraged to visit and and pray before images of the Holy Family.

 

I was in the UK for Christmas this year and played, for the first time in 20 years, on Christmas morning in an ancient (Anglican) Abbey in the UK. My closest friend, the Priest, reminded his congregation, that morning, that the season lasted for 40 days and that they should try and visit the crib every day of the season. Living in his vicarage I was able to see a small but steady procession of visitors every day.

 

Now back home I, again, have access to my computer and to this site and so - A Happy Christmas to all!

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