Christmas 2010 was spent at Southwark Cathedral.
The first challenge was getting to Southwark. With no tube service by the time the service had finished (or at all on Christmas Day), I had to navigate through central London by car for the first time. The very light traffic made it easy, basically following the A1 to Kings Cross and then picking up Farringdon Road to cross the Thames at Blackfriars Bridge and reaching Southwark Cathedral along Southwark Street. Parking was available in Borough Market. In the early hours of Christmas morning, travel back was over London Bridge, although it got confusing around the Bank of England, so next time on Christmas lunchtime, I headed north over Blackfriars Bridge.
The Midnight Service was sung by the Boy Trebles and Lay Clerks, with the Mass setting used being Schubert in G. +Richard, Bishop of Kingston, preached and presided at the Eucharist. The service started with the lights dimmed and the Lay Clerks singing the introit Wake, O wake (J.S. Bach), before the processional hymn, It came upon a midnight clear. Before the last verse of the hymn, the Crib scene (laid out at the High Altar) was blessed by +Richard. At the climax of the Offertory Anthem, God is with us (John Tavener), the spotlights trained on the Christmas Constellation was switched on, and the resultant reflections moved as the displayed moved.
The Christmas Constellation was a combination of the Star Sculptures (loaned by Andrew Logan), embellished by star made at the childrens’ workshop on Christmas Eve.
The final hymn was O come all ye faithful, including the David Wilcox descant in the penultimate verse and organ arrangement in final verse.
The Morning Service was sung by the Great Choir (Girls, Boys and Lay Clerks). The setting was Messe solennelle (Langlais). The introit anthem, sung by the Lay Clerks, was Hodie Christus natus est, following by Mrs C.F. Alexander’s hymn Once in Royal David’s City. Canon Pastor – Bruce Saunders – presided at the Eucharist, with Acting Dean (Sub-Dean) – Andrew Nunn – preaching.
At the offertory, five verses of O Come all ye faithful were sung, followed by the choir anthem – Sussex Carol. The final verse of the O Come was sung in the middle of the Eucharist prayer after the words of consecration. The service concluded with Hark! the herald angels sing, followed by the voluntary – played by the Director of Music, Peter Wright – Finale from Symphony No.1 by Vierne.
- More pictures from Christmas 2010 at Southwark in my SmugMug collection
Postscript – Midnight Mass in Glasgow 2000
As a post-script, ten years ago I attended the Midnight Service of St Mary’s Cathedral (in Glasgow). As the building was closed for major restoration at the time, the service was held at Lansdowne Parish Chruch further west along Great Western Road, next to Kelvinbridge. My overriding memory of that service was the final hymn with Frikki Walker playing the organ for Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and feeling the music under the balcony.