St Helen's Church
St Michael's Church
Church music is wonderful and we are reaching the time of the year when it is at its absolute best. Christmas.
We must of course get through Advent and the annual wonderment of how such magnificent words of the Advent Carol, expanding on the joyous message of St Mathew 1.23 “O Come, O Come Emmanuel “should be set to such gloomy music.
Now we are told by The Vicar that we must not be controversial in these columns so can only speculate which particular piece William Booth he had in mind when he questioned why the Devil should have all the good songs. I wonder!!
General Booth, who went onwards (Christian Soldier!!) to found the Salvation Army in 1865 can only be delighted though with what was to follow.
Take “Once in Royal David’s City”. Traditionally sung solo on the first verse as the opening to our Carol Service. Melody by Henry Gauntlet and words by
Mrs C.F. Alexander who also penned “All Things Bright and Beautiful”. As I write on this cold November day, shivers go up my spine as I hear in my mind the soprano voices to this emotional Carol.
For the last few years Classic FM has polled listeners to find The Nations Favourite Carol. Top for the last few years has been the French Carol “O Holy Night”, not a new melody it was written as long ago as 1847 it is rarely sung in Churches in England. if you want to hear at its best it goes on YouTube, the version by the Tenor Roberto Alagna will take some beating.
A classical English favourite though is “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”. Usually the last Carol sung at any service. It truly epitomises the spirit of Christmas linking the Birth of Our Lord with the best examples of earthly chivalry.
“Peace on Earth” “God and Sinners reconciled” and of course “Born that Man no more may die”.
Wonderful words! Which genius devised such imagination? Well it was almost a team effort originally written by Charles Wesley in 1739, then adopted and improved some years later by George Whitefield.
The music though is equally superb. It was written by Germany’s greatest composer (Advanced level students of Music. Discuss.) Felix Mendelssohn in 1840 with the descant in the last verse added as late as 1961 by Sir David Willcocks. You can hear all these Carols sung by our magnificent choir at any of our Carol Services this Christmas and please, please do join in and sing your heart out.
None of this could be possible though without our virtuoso on the Church Organ, close friend of this column and all-round good bloke. Paul Ronson, step forward Paul and take a bow. Well Done.
This year before we get to Christmas we have a very special occasion. We have not seen a Wedding in St Helens this year until now. What makes this one particularly significant is that involves two of our own.
Members of our Church Family Nikitta Minihane and Jonathon Bradley will marry on Saturday 14 December at 11.30
What an occasion it will be, conducted by Rev. Andrew with full Choir
Paul on the Organ, Rob and Team on the Bell ropes and every candle in Church alight.
Nikitta and Jonathon would like as many of their Church Family as possible to attend St Helens on the 14th, please be in your seat by 11.00 if you can possibly make it.
Finally, may we wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.
See you in Church (especially on the 14th and of course at our Christmas Services)
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