Carols Across the Generations

A week ago, the four of us took part in the Chattisham and Hintlesham carol concert. We were saddened to have missed last year’s, our first Christmas in the village, but turned up in force this time. My wife had answered the call for choristers in the village newsletter and began rehearsing in November and so it was well fixed in the calendar.

So you went to a Christmas carol concert, so what?

All Saints & St.Margarets Church, Chattisham, Suffolk Photo: Adrian Cable via Wikipedia/Geograph. Licence: CC BY SA

So nothing, I guess, except that it was for me, an emotional event. We’ve taken the children to Christmas services before (yes, despite being atheists) and they’ve played the inevitable shepherding roles, sung in choirs etc. but this was different. This time, while the other half was in the choir, the teenagers and I were in the congregation with everyone else and the service was the classic, traditional, everything you’d expect in a village church, 9 lessons and carols event. Not quite King’s College Chapel at 3pm on Christmas Eve but in that mould.

What hit me was the continuity of it all. My parents had taken me to the same event when I was young, as had theirs before them. We sang the same carols my parents and their parents had sung in very similar surroundings going back over a century. Do you need to be able to read the words to be able to sing the first verses of O Little Town of Bethlehem? Silent Night? Hark the Herald Angels Sing? As the children from the village primary school sang Away in A Manger I remembered my own time doing that and wondered whether my grandfathers, born at the turn of the 20th century, would have sing that as boys. It’s just possible, as the carol is a couple of years older than they were. One carol that is sung less often but was included this time, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, induces happy memories, and naturally my thoughts turned to my dad who of course I am missing this Christmas.

Standing next to my children, my wife in the choir, singing across the generations…

Merry Christmas one and all: long may it continue.