Monday, December 22, 2008
CHRISTMAS CAROL SERVICES
ST. PAUL'S CHURCH, BEDFORD
No Christmas is complete without Christmas Carols, trees, lights and children. As a choral singer I love Christmas Carol Services and this year I have been to five. The University of Bedfordshire had an exciting international 'Celebration of Christmas' at our lovely 11th Century St. Paul's Church in Bedford. Children from Queens Park Lower, John Bunyan Upper School and Wootton Upper School sang carols and danced, the University Scottish Pipe Band played and we had and a presentation by Michelle Row, a former student who is raising funds for a school project in Malawi.
Last night I sang in the choir at Elstow Abbey's 9 Lessons and Carols and last week went to the St. John Ambulance County Service at St. Andrews Church, Bedford. We also had two Civic Carol Services - the Bedford Borough Council Carol Service at St. Paul's and the final County Council Staff Carol Service at County Hall.
As for the children, I have been to 2 Nativity Plays performed by small children at Elstow Lower School and we had a wonderful Christmas Concert at Elstow Abbey performed by 40 children from Kingshott School and the Hitchin Concert Band Brass Ensemble, which raised £400 for organ repairs and refurbishment of Elstow Abbey. This was the second concert in our Elstow Music Festival, and the third one will be an Organ Recital by Bedfordshire Organists on Saturday 31 January 2009 at 12 noon.
My brother in America has sent me an explanation of the true meaning of the curious Christmas Carol "A Partridge in a Pear Tree". From 1558 - 1829 Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practise their faith openly. Someone wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to church members:
* The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ
* Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments
* Three French Hens stood for faith, hope and love
* Four calling birds were the 4 Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke & John
* Five golden rings recalled the Law, the first 5 Old Testament books
* Six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation
* Seven swans a-swimming means the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit - Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership and Mercy.
* Eight maids a-milking were the 8 Beatitudes
* Nine ladies dancing were the 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit - Love, Joy, Peace,
Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control
* Ten lords a-leaping were the 10 Commandments
* Eleven pipers piping stood for the 11 faithful disciples
* Twelve drummers drumming symbolized the 12 points of belief in the Apostles' Creed
We learn something every day!