Christmas Greetings

I have always loved Christmas. I remember one magical Christmas Eve walking with my older brother, Jim, through the deep snow to serve at midnight mass. It was my debut. I was so excited! I can still hear the distant church bells as we scrunched for a long way through the thick snow. All around, the silence of the night, the piercing chill wind, the distant lights surrounded us. After mass, we met our family and friends, wishing one to the other a wonderful Christmas.

I was not disinterested by presents but, for me, the lasting beauty of Christmas has always been the way in which it transforms people’s lives and creates a deep sense of mutual affection and love. Even today I get that lovely warm feeling when I see my grandchildren’s eyes light up with wonder at all things tinselly and sparkly. It makes the world a better place.

For me, it is a time of deep nostalgia too because most of the people who inhabited those places when I was a child and, indeed, most of the places themselves, are long since gone. It still manages to stir something of profound meaning and deep gratitude in my heart.

One particular Christmas Carol never fails to bring a tear to my eye. Consequently, I went to the piano and recorded it as a way of expressing my warmest Christmas wishes to each and every one of you. Now, which Carol could it be?

Thanks very much Anne for your guest article. Lovely to hear about your choir days and about your and Tony’s favourite Carols xx❤️

My favourite Christmas Carols by Anne Hetherington

With Christmas approaching, John’s website has reminded me of time spent in my school choir singing Christmas carols (please note that I was in the choir because I was in the top set for English/history/music rather than because of any singing talent!). Each year we took part in the school Carol Service, which was a major event. I remember that one year the Carol Service was held in St Chads Catholic Cathedral, in the centre of  Birmingham, which was an awe-inspiring place to perform in.

We sang the old favourites such as Away in a Manger and Silent Night but we also sang some more unusual carols. One I still remember, about 50 years later, is a beautiful, mournful number called the Coventry Carol. It tells the story of the slaughter of the innocents by King Herod after he is told of the birth of Jesus.

On a lighter note, I must tell you that Tony’s favourite carol is Hark the Herald Angels Sing. He wanted to include it in our wedding service but as we got married in April I wouldn’t allow it!  He tells me that he was brilliant singing carols like Silent Night and In the Bleak Midwinter in his days as a choir boy!