By canon John Draper, rector of Rowner talks about how Christmas carols help tell the story of Jesus
Think what Christmas would be like without the traditional singing of carols in church or around the streets.
Christmas Eve always brings the broadcast from King’s College Chapel in Cambridge and the eerie start with the boy solo of Once in Royal David’s City.
I remember every verse of Away in a Manger, not just because we seem to sing it at every chance over Christmas; but because it was taught to me as a child by my mother as a bedtime hymn and prayer.
Christmas carols were invented in order that the Christmas story could be communicated in an easy and memorable way.
Sometimes we remember the tune more readily than the words and it would be a brave musician who tried to use a different tune to, say, Hark the Herald Angels Sing.
The earliest collection we have in England was collected by a Shropshire priest in 1424, with a group of 25 Caroles of Cristemas and were intended for singing by the Wassailers who went from house to house.
Ever since then, we have, in this country, developed a fine tradition of singing carols together, both in the home, the pub and in church.
Some of the finest words were written by poems and reflect the Christmas feeling we have of welcoming Christ into our lives at Christmas and letting him be beside us.
One of my favourite carols, by the poet Christina Rossetti, captures for me the atmosphere created by the winter and by the presence of Christ around the Christmas meal:
Our God, heaven cannot hold him nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
Try and get along to sing carols together in our churches and cathedrals this Christmas: they will uplift you and remind you of the true meaning of Christmas.
Our parish carol service is this Sunday at 4pm and will be followed by seasonal refreshments.
Do come and join us if you are able to.
n St Mary the Virgin Church, Rowner Lane, Rowner, Gosport
Contact: Canon John Draper on (023) 9258 1834 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit rownerparishchurch.org for more information.