Advent carols

Today was the first of our Christmas carol service rehearsals. There were just 5 of us this afternoon (and I’m the only soprano – help!) but the choir usually snowballs, adding singers at each rehearsal and even picking up a few on the day itself (16 December at 6pm). Music is an important part of church life all year round, but most of all at Christmas. Perhaps that’s not surprising; after all, we get Christmas carols are played in shops, sung at stations, performed in schools, even warbled in pubs.

The musical mix at St Mary’s normally ranges from choruses to Taize. But the carol service is based on traditional readings, popular carols and anthems. According to Anna, who is leading the music this year, the rule is, ‘you have to have Bach and you have to have Rutter’ – all sung by candlelight.

The candles caused excitement last year when vicar Graham Kings’ notes caught fire – he ended up on YouTube. Hopefully this year, the music and the Christmas story should provide drama enough.

Christmas is a famously stressful time but I find Christmas singing a great stress-buster. Last year a few of us sang carols round some of the estates just off Upper Street. Here in the busy heart of 24/7 Islington, the most requested carol was Silent Night. If your Christmas wish-list includes some peace and joy, then maybe St Mary’s carol service could be the place to find it.


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