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Joyful Music at Uplifting Christmas Festival

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The Boys’ Division Christmas Festival opened with the traditional singing of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’. Year 8 pupil Haseeb Ahsan gave a clear and beautiful solo performance of the first verse before he was joined by the choir, congregation and orchestra for the remainder of the carol. The rousing performance set the scene in the packed Great Hall for a thoughtful and uplifting service.

The audience was in great voice throughout the evening and enthusiastically added their voices to ‘See Amid the Winter’s Snow’, ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!’, ‘Joy to the World!’ and ‘Shine Jesus Shine’. They also joined in for the chorus during ‘Mary’s Boy Child’, while the verses were sung as solos by Sam Barker in Year 13 and Year 11 pupils Ben Flood and Jude Ashcroft.

The singing of carols, accompanied by the excellent orchestra and the organ, was interspersed with choral items and contemplative readings and reflections.

The Choir performed ‘Bethlehem’ and ‘Mighty Good News’. During ‘Away in a Manger’, William Martin in Year 7 sang the second verse as a lovely solo. ‘Shout for Joy, Ye People!’ was sung by the Lower School Choir, accompanied by Year 13 student Victor Chow on violin.

The Chamber Choir also sang three pieces: the soft and emotional ‘Glow’, a beautiful rendition of ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’ and a soulful a capella version of ‘Mary, Did You Know?’

The meditation was delivered by Rev. Mark Simpson, pioneer minister at Wellfield Church in the Blackburn diocese. After opening with a humorous story about the origin of the fairy on top of the Christmas tree, he drew particular attention to one of the readings, Hebrews 1: v1-3, which is not often used in Christmas services. Through a series of personal recollections, he talked through the dense theology of this Biblical passage. He invited everyone to take in the wonder of these words, which challenge assumptions, and discussed the importance of listening to and appreciating other points of view. Finally, he talked about the hope that Jesus’s birth brings, drawing attention to well-known phrases from carols which poignantly express why Christmas is a time for joy and hope: “Our hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight” and “Born to raise the sons of Earth, born to give them second birth.”

This was followed by a moving performance of ‘There Is Faint Music’ from a quartet of boys: Jean-Paul Asumu and Nicholas Clark in Year 13, Adam Whitmore in Year 12 and Joshua Kay in Year 11 gave a stunning rendition ahead of the final prayer, ‘A Christmas Blessing’.

The Great Hall was once again filled with the audience’s singing as the orchestra and organ played ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful!’ to bring the Christmas Festival to a spectacular close.

Afterwards, the Headmaster Mr Britton thanked Rev. Simpson for his meditation. He also thanked all of the young musicians, members of choirs and readers, and the members of staff who rehearsed with them, who made the Christmas Festival such a wonderful occasion. Guests were invited to convene in the Riley Centre’s Leverhulme Suite to enjoy drinks and a spread of mince pies, Christmas cake, stollen and festive cupcakes before departing.

A retiring collection was held in support of the School’s chosen Christmas charities. The Charities Committee was also selling packs of charity Christmas cards, which had been designed by two pupils.


Watch the whole of the Boys’ Division Christmas Festival here on Facebook.

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