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Christmas Festival is Uplifting and Joyous

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This year’s Christmas Festival, held in front of a reduced audience in the Great Hall at Bolton School Boys’ Division, offered uplifting light and joy through well-chosen readings and Carols. 

Nic Ford, Head of Boys’ Division, proferred an invitation to worship and the evening began with a rousting version of traditional opener ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, which included an impressive solo from Cipriano Prasad from Y7. The banks of the School Choir followed this up with ‘Morning of Promise’ before Y8 pupil Will Lucas gave the first reading of the evening, a passage from Isaiah 40: v3-5. Keshana Fonseka of Y11 read the reflection ‘I am not alone’ by Taylor Caldwell. 

The Boys’ Chamber Choir, accompanied by Harry Adams of Y11 on violin, sang ‘A Gift for the King’ before the audience was on its feet again to lend their voices to ‘See Amid the Winter’s Snow’. The School’s joint Chamber Choir sang an atmospheric version of Carol Ann Duffy’s words ‘Mirabile Dictu’ and the second reading came from Y8 pupil Antoine Jodeau reciting Luke 2: v1-7. The reflection ‘Day to Remember’ was read by Levi Higham from Y11. 

A Boys’ Division favourite then followed in the shape of a rousing ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!’ before there was another reading from Luke 2, this time v8-14 by Y8’s Daniel Keene. The following reflection ‘Is Christmas the Smell of Evergreen?’ was read by another Y8 boy, Peter McCreedy. The School Choir then reassembled to perform a haunting version of ‘A King in Swaddling Clothes’. 

A perennial favourite ‘Joy to the World’ saw more audience participation ahead of the fourth reading of the evening, a passage from John 4: v7-9 by Tinashe Nyahwo of Y8 and a reading of ‘When Christ Was Born’ by another Y8 pupil, Reuben Rowley. The melodious tones of ‘Mary, Did You Know?’ sung by the Chamber Choir then filled the night air. ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ allowed for some fine solos from Y13 students, Anuj Mishra, Max Turner and Thomas Martin and further audience involvement. 

The fifth reading of the Festival came from Head of Foundation Philip Britton who recited John 1: v1-14 and the fifth reflection came from Thomas Martin who read ‘Behold I Stand’. The School Choir then gave a wonderful rendering of ‘We Three Kings’. 

The Reverend Dave Brae, Associate Minister at St Peter’s Halliwell and Young Adults’ Pioneer in Bolton town centre, gave the service’s Meditation. He thanked the musicians for ‘giving us a taste of heaven’ and spoke about ‘rebellious hope’ and how it is displayed throughout the Christmas story. James Hopkinson from Y13 delivered an arresting version of ‘Winter Song’ and the final prayer, ‘Light Up Our Lives’ came from Y7’s Will Colvin. Choristers and the audience combined voices for two further songs, ‘Shine Jesus Shine’ and ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful!’, which closed out a wonderful evening’s entertainment. 

This year’s retiring collection was for Barnardo’s and Create Boltones.  

Watch the Christmas Festival in its entirety through this link.

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