Ceremony of Carols Brings Light to December
Girls' Division Music

The Ceremony of Carols is always a wonderful occasion as the end of term draws near, and this year was no exception. The Girls’ Division once again put together a magical evening of beautiful carols and thoughtful readings celebrating the deeper meaning of Christmastime.

The Great Hall was plunged into darkness for the traditional opening: the Chamber Choir processed in singing the unaccompanied ‘Hodie’ and carrying lights, before the organ launched into ‘Once in Royal David’s City’. Amy Lennon (Year 9) entered the Hall while singing the first verse solo, before being joined by the choirs for the second verse and the whole congregation for the remainder of this moving opening carol.

Mrs Lynne Kyle, Head of Girls’ Division, then offered the welcome and the bidding prayer, which was followed by everyone lifting their voices to ‘While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night’.

The second reading is traditionally from the bible: St Luke Chapter 2 verses 8-14. This year, it was read by Mrs K Heatherington, Director of Sport and Head of Department, who retires at the end of term. The Chamber Choir then sang ‘In the Stillness’, followed by the Accidentals singing ‘The First Noel’.

After the rousing carol ‘Hark! The Herald-Angels Sing’, Zainab Jiva (Year 10) read ‘The Work of Christmas’ by Howard Thurman, and the carolling continued: the Senior Choir sang the ‘Nativity Carol’ and the Lower School Choir sang ‘Angel Gabriel’. Year 7 pupils Ella Wrigley and Imogen Quint read an extract from ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’ by Dr Seuss.

‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ sat at the heart of the programme, with the whole congregation lifting their voices for this carol only to pause for the third verse solo: this year performed by Elliot Rigby (Year 13).

Next, Maryam Ali (Year 13) read an extract from ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens, the Lower School Choir sang Rutter’s ‘Star Carol’ and the Chamber Choir sang a piece dating back to the sixteenth century: ‘Where Riches is Everlastingly’. Year 9 pupils Aysha Patel, Harriet Kennedy and Megan Woods shared the poem ‘Love came down at Christmas’ by Christina Rosetti. Everyone enjoyed singing ‘Joy to the World’, then settled to listen to the Accidentals perform ‘God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen’.

‘Three Kings from Persian Lands Afar’ is always a traditional part of the Girls’ Division Ceremony of Carols, and this year a lively rendition was produced by the Chamber Choir.

Mrs Kyle returned to the podium to read ‘Christmas Bells’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, followed by Mr Philip Britton, Head of Foundation, giving the final, Biblical reading of the evening: St John Chapter 1.

‘Adeste Fideles’ was the last of the carols. It was sung in Latin by the whole congregation, with the choirs providing a stunning descant to this uplifting carol. Finally, the Chamber Choir processed out singing the ‘Hodie’ and leaving the Great Hall once more in darkness, before light returned and the congregation showed their appreciation with an enormous round of applause.

Following the spectacular evening of choral music and reflections, the congregation was invited to enjoy drinks and treats in the Riley Centre, where there was a bustling and festive atmosphere. This year’s guests included a number of Old Girls and former staff, who made the most of this opportunity to catch up and share memories of festive times gone by.

A retiring collection was held in support of Fortalice, raising £650.96. This local charity, which provides frontline services for those experiencing domestic abuse and violence, was chosen by the choirs.

Listen to the Ceremony of Carols again on YouTube (audio only)

Flickr album: Ceremony of Carols 2023 | Height: auto | Theme: Default | Skin: Default Skin


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