THE CONGREGATION was in perfect musical harmony and there was barely a seat left spare as The News’ carol concert made its return.
At St Mary’s Church in Fratton Road, Portsea, crowds gathered to celebrate the start of Christmas with a Christingle service, led by Father Bob White.
Students and staff from Newbridge Junior, Penhale Infant, Manor Infant and Arundel Court Primary Academy schools joined the church choir for performances, with ingredients for the Christingles provided by The Southern Co-operative.
Once the candles on the Christingles were lit, the congregation joined in to sing Away in a Manger.
After the service, a collection was held for The News’ Comfort and Joy Christmas campaign.
Father Bob White said: ‘We had 250 Christingles and more than 600 people in the building, which was really great.
‘The Christingle service is the start of our annual Christmas carol celebrations.
‘To be able to both share it with the local community and celebrate the good things in the community is wonderful.
‘There is a real sense of people coming together – people of all ages and all backgrounds.
Editor of The News Mark Waldron said: ‘The service has been fantastic, as always – we talk about how hectic Christmas is and how it has been commercialised but today summed up what Christmas is really about.
‘We’ve had a load of people come through the door today and I hope they all enjoyed it.’
Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said: ‘It was an absolute pleasure to attend The News’ Carol Service at St Mary’s in the heart of our city.
‘Children present sang their hearts out and did our schools and community proud.
‘I’m pleased The News is also backing the church’s Homeless Action campaign.’