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Wednesday, 19 December 2012
All 470 seats were taken and guests squeezed into the back of the Great Hall at Bolton School Boys' Division as Reverend Chris Edmondson, the Bishop of Bolton, opened the Christmas Festival with an invitation to worship.
The Choir for the evening comprised the largest ensemble of Year 7 boys in recent years, as well as older boys and girls, plus members of staff, Old Boys and friends of the School. Having sung the opening two verses of "Once in Royal David's City", the tone for the evening was then set as they were joined by the audience; the collaborative singing virtually drowned out the orchestra and the newly refurbished school organ as the cavernous Great Hall was filled with a thousand voices!
The evening was punctuated by pupils delivering a series of biblical readings, prayers and seasonal reflections, carefully chosen by Religious Studies teacher, Mrs Fox.
"The Time of Snow", performed wonderfully by the School's Joint Chamber Choir, was followed by countless Christmas favourites sung by everyone in the Hall, including "While Shepherds Watched", "Mary's Boy Child", "Hark! The Herald Angel Sing!" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem".
In his Meditation, the Bishop of Bolton was assisted by Chaplain Karen Openshaw of the Oasis Academy MediaCityUK and together they cleverly used the board game Trivial Pursuits to tell the story of Jesus and his impact on the world. Recalling his own recent visit to Bethlehem, the Bishop also asked the audience to consider the plight of those currently living in troubled communities.
In what was a joyous evening there were many highlights but the "Hallelujah Chorus", sung by the Choir, was particularly special as was the combined voices of the Choir and the audience in a rousing rendition of "Shine Jesus Shine".
The final offering of the evening, the seven verses of "O Come, all ye Faithful!", almost took the roof off the Hall!
Bringing the Festival to a close, Headmaster Mr Philip Britton, commended the Choir and the audience on some fabulous singing and he also offered a special thank you to Boys' Division Head of Music, Mr Stephen Martin.
Singers, players and audience then retired to the Boys' Dining Room for seasonal refreshments. A collection was made on the night for Bolton Lads and Girls' Club.
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