As Christmas Day comes to an end, it is time to reflect on the four services of Christmas that have been held at St Mary’s Cathedral over the last day and a bit.
To Bethlehem, To Bethlehem (14:00)
The first service, telling the story of The Nativity from the viewpoint of various historical figures throughout the ages including St Francis, Martin Luther King, the daughter of Johannes Gutenberg and St Columba.
Bishop Gregor took the role of the shepherd leading the pilgrims around the building whilst the time period changed, accompanied on the piano by the Director of Music, Frikki Walker. In recognition of time shifts that took place between each of the character, the music was variation on the theme of Doctor Who.
Once the pilgrims had met all the historical figures, they travelled to Bethlehem at the time of the nativity.
Carol Service (18:30)
The Carol Service started with one of the Choristers reading the prologue from Isaiah. This was followed by another chorister singing the solo at the beginning of Once in royal David’s city.
The carols sung were:
- Once in royal David’s city (music – H.J. Gauntlett; words – C.F. Alexander)
- Hodie Christus natus est (Bassano)
- A child is born in Bathlehem (Scheidt)
- Who would think that what was needed (music – John Hughes; words – John Bell)
- In Dulci Jubilo
- The Angel Gabriel from heaven came (music – Basque traditional; words – paraphrase of Basque Carol)
- My Lord has come (Will Todd)
- Lord, you were rich beyond all splendour (music – French traditional; words – Frank Houghton)
- Eg vil lofa eina þá (Bára Grímsdóttir) – An Icelandic Carol to the Virgin Mary
- Angel Voices (John Rutter)
- Angels from the realms of glory
- Sussex Carol (arr Willcocks)
- Hark the Herald Angels sing
The epilogue was read from the pulpit by another of the choristers.
Midnight Mass (23:15)
The traditional Christmas Midnight Mass began with On Christmas night all Christians sing. The choir sang the mass setting Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo also known as the Little Organ Mass by Joseph Haydn.
Midnight occurred during the Eucharist prayer, at which time Provost Kelvin Holdsworth placed the baby Jesus in the crib scene and lit the candle in the centre of the Advent Wreath.
The service concluded with the singing of O come, all ye faithful, following by the playing of the Finale from Symphonie VI by Widor.
Christmas Morning Eucharist (10:30)
Ten hours after the conclusion of the Midnight Mass, the Christmas Morning Eucharist started. There was a happy atmosphere about the place, with the choristers taking part in the service.
One of the carols sung was While shepherds watched their flocks by nights. The regular tune to this carol is Winchester Old (from Este’s Psalter), and there often in Cornwall it is sung to the tune Northrop (by A. Northrop). However St Mary’s has recently being using other tunes. In 2014 the tune of Ilkey Moor baht’at. In 2015, the tune Sweet Chiming Bells was sung.
At the end of the service the procession was led out by Beth with the thurible, who swung it with a flourish, and include several 360 degree swings.
And so Christmas Day 2015 comes to an end. However the Christmas season continues until the Feast of Epiphany on 6 January, and then onto to Candlemas on 2 February.