Thursday, 15 December 2016
Boys’ Division Headmaster Philip Britton welcomed Bolton School pupils, parents, staff, alumni and friends for the annual Christmas Festival. Always a popular event in the School calendar, the Great Hall was filled with over 400 guests, all eager to enjoy the festive atmosphere that the evening promised to deliver.
Following the invitation to worship, Year 8 pupil Thomas Martin gave a fine solo to the first verse of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’: the traditional opening piece of the Christmas Festival. The choir and audience added their voices from the second verse, setting the scene for a rousing evening of carolling.
Contemporary reflections and a variety of Biblical readings from the Books of Isiah, John and Matthew made the story of Christmas central to the evening. These were interspersed with enchanting musical performances from pupils.
The Choir sang ‘How Far is it to Bethlehem?’ and ‘A Child is Born in Bethlehem’. Year 7 pupils Will Fothergill, Ellis Matthews and James Morgan offered the first verse of ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ as a lovely trio, and during ‘Born On This Day’ there were accomplished solos from Rishi Narla and Guy Seddon in Year 7 and James Hopkinson in Year 8.
Also in fine voice on the evening was the Junior Choir, singing ‘Cantate Domino’ with enormous energy and enjoyment. The Chamber Choir delivered two beautiful pieces, ‘My Lord Had Come’ and ‘The Shepherds’ Joy’, which they performed to perfection.
‘Mary’s Boy Child’ was sung with confidence and style by Year 11 pupil Nicholas Clark and Year 13s James Yearn and Matthew Kay, each taking a verse, with the audience joining in with the chorus.
The audience was invited to sing along with a number of other well-known carols throughout the proceedings, all accompanied by magnificent music from the orchestra. Christmas favourites ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’, ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!’, ‘Joy to the World’ and ‘Shine Jesus Shine’ rang out in the Great Hall over the course of the evening, culminating in the grand finale: ‘O Come, All ye Faithful’ to close the performance.
Reverend Stephen Tranter, Team Rector of West Bolton Team, gave a thought-provoking meditation, asking what would make it into a list of ‘top ten Christmas moments’. He gave some suggestions of his own, mentioning children opening presents, the Queen’s speech, and perhaps even the moment earlier in the concert when the soloist gave voice to the opening notes of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’. However, he went on to talk about some of his more poignant Christmas memories, such as visiting a grieving widow, working in hospital on Christmas day, and spending Christmas in India while travelling thirty years ago; and about sharing, giving, and finding the love of God in unexpected places. Finally, he hoped that everyone present would find true Christmas joy this year.
Mr Britton ended the evening by thanking Mr Bleasdale for organising the music and Mrs Fox for choosing the readings and arranging the readers. He invited the audience for festive refreshments in the Riley Centre, which was packed following the event.
A retiring collection was held in support of the Boys’ Division’s chosen Christmas charities.
Click here or press the play button below to watch all the performances recorded at the Christmas Festival. Click the song titles listed to watch a specific item from the programme:
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