The image on yesterday’s post was taken at a Christmas concert I attended with my friend Michael, held at Westminster Abbey on Thursday evening.

Westminster Abbey at night

It was my first visit inside the Abbey which I have only ever viewed from the outside. It’s a stunning building and I expected the interior to be familiar to me after seeing it on the televison during Royal Weddings and memorial services, but it felt very different and not as big as I imagined. However, the high vaulted ceilings and intricate wood and stone carving combined with gold and paintwork remind you of it’s importance and majesty.

Interior of Westminster Abbey

At the heart of the concert were The Choir of Westminster Abbey accompanied by a harp and interspersed with readings and a blast of the organ which signalled for us to stand and join in. I love singing but sadly I am not very good. It’s one of those things I wish I could do; fill my lungs, open my mouth and just let it out. Sadly what I hear in my mind doesn’t translate once I start singing!

The concert was a selection of Carols from history including celebrations of the life of Sir John Taverner and the centenary of Bejamin Britten in his work ‘A Ceremony of Carols’.  My classical music knowledge is not that good so some pieces were very familar, such as ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’ and ‘The Holly and The Ivy’, whilst others were version of popular carols sung with early translations such as ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’.  There were also a number of carols unknown to me and sung in Olde English and Latin, such as a beautiful choral and harp piece called ‘Wolcum Yole!‘ and a strange little carol titled ‘Dormi Jesu’ which I suspect most mothers will sympathise with:

Dormi Jesu

Dormi, Jesu!  Mater ridet
quae tam dulcem somnum videt.
Dormi, Jesu!  Blandule!

Si non dormis, mater plorat.
Inter fila cantans orat,
blande, veni, somnule.

Sleep, Jesu!  The mother laughs
who sees such sweet sleep.
Sleep, Jesu! O gentle one!

If you do not sleep, the mother weeps.
As she weaves she prays singing
gently:  come and sleep.

Isn’t it lovely and quirky! I think my favourite carol is ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ which we sang at the concert and my Mum loves to hear ‘Away in a Manger’. Do you have a favourite?

Do pop over and visit my friend Michael’s blog, ‘Five Days to Alaska‘ for more images from Westminster Abbey.


6 Responses to 15th december: christmas carols

  1. Jane says:

    I’ve always loved ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Clear’ and ‘I saw Three Ships’ but I have to admit I get a bit teary when children sing ‘Little Donkey’.

    I’m off to a carol concert tonight – nothing as grand as Westminster Abbey though.

    • Rachel says:

      I’m not too familiar with ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Clear’ but will investigate. Little Donkey does the same to me…we’re big softies aren’t we! Enjoy the concert x

  2. Helen says:

    I love belting out carols! Had my children’s school advent service last week, as well as an orchestra Christmas concert, so I’m feeling really festive now! My favourites are all the mournful ones, like ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’ but in Welsh ‘O tyred di, Emaniwel’, and also the Coventry Carol ‘Lullay lullay’. And all of the rest of them. Can’t beat a good carol.

  3. Dom says:

    so christmassy!… love the Abbey!

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