Monday, 12 December 2016
The Ceremony of Carols was once again a moving occasion as pupils, parents, staff and Old Girls came together to celebrate the spirit of Christmas with music, words and song.
The evening began with the ‘Hodie’, the girls of the Chamber Choir processing into the darkened Great Hall and bringing with them the light. After the congregation joined in the singing of ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’, Girls’ Division Headmistress Sue Hincks offered a warm welcome to this special evening and said the words of the Bidding Prayer.
The evening then continued with a series of festive readings on a literary theme, including excerpts from Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee and Shakespeare’s Hamlet. These were interspersed with musical performances and a number of girls offered enchanting solos over the course of the evening.
Year 13 pupil Molly McLaughlin’s spine-tingling performance opened ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, with the choir singing the second verse before everyone joined in to complete the carol. Rachel Care in Year 10 gave beautiful voice to the third verse of ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’. The Middle School Choir sang ‘Music I Love’, which was adapted from a poem by Anne Brontë, with Year 8 pupils Taya Panter, Grace Collins, Ani Sastry and Olivia Sample all performing solos during this piece.
The prayers were led by Miss Hincks, and performed in song by a number of girls from Years 11 to 13: Ellen Bate, Caroline Blair, Rachel Care, Séren Davies, Jacqueline Jones-Humphrey, Charlotte Johnson, Ciara Mansfield and Siân Rowlands.
The Chamber Choir sang two pieces: the fast-paced carol ‘The Shepherds’ Joy’, and the soothing and more traditional ‘My Lord Has Come’. These contrasting pieces showed the range and skill of the choir. A cappella group The Accidentals also gave their rendition of ‘Jesus Christ the Apple Tree’.
The Senior Choir’s sweet singing of ‘Angel’s Carol’, accomplished delivery of ‘The Angel Gabriel’, and the soft yet moving ‘Stille Nacht’ were a delight for the audience scattered through the programme.
The Combined Choirs performed two pieces which are traditionally part of the Ceremony of Carols and Christmas in the Girls’ Division: ‘The Holly and the Ivy’, sung as a round, and ‘Three Kings from Persian Lands Afar’. They also sang ‘Carol of the Bells’ with great confidence and style despite the speed and complexity of the piece.
Over the course of the evening, the congregation raised their voices for a number of carols and filled the Great Hall with song. In addition to ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’, ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ and ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’, they also sang ‘Angels from the Realms of Glory’, ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Clear’ and ‘Adeste Fideles’, the last carol of the evening. The combined choirs provided wonderful descants to all of these well-known carols to add to the beautiful music.
As the evening drew to a close, the girls of the Chamber Choir processed out to the ‘Hodie’ as darkness fell once again for a moment of stillness and reflection.
Miss Hincks ended the Ceremony of Carols by leading the audience in a round of applause for the pupils. She also thanked Assistant Head Ms Bradford-Keegan for selecting the readings and coaching the readers, and Director of Music Mrs Price for organising the musical portions of the evening. She wished everyone a wonderful Christmas, and a happy and prosperous New Year.
After the Ceremony of Carols, guests were invited to join pupils and staff on the B Corridor for refreshments, including mince pies and Christmas cake, while the Senior Flute Quartet and Intermediate Flute Choir provided festive music. A large number of Old Girls and former staff members attended the Ceremony of Carols and were delighted to catch up afterwards.
A retiring collection was held in support of Save the Children.
Click here or press the play button below to watch all the performances recorded at the Ceremony of Carols. Click the song titles listed to watch a specific item from the programme:
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