On Monday 11th December Feltmakers, their families and friends forgot the ice, snow and closed railway stations to enjoy the warmth of the annual service of lessons and carols. We were cordially welcomed by the Master, His Honour Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC, and Wardens dressed in their livery as we entered the beautiful and historic Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great.
As well as being the traditional venue for the Feltmakers’ Carols, St Bartholomew the Great has been the scene of many films from the Hollow Crown to Muppets: Most Wanted. However, while the church attracts Hollywood and those of no particular religious belief due to its architecture and sense of history, it is also very much a living church and holds enormous spiritual energy.
It was very moving to hear the pure voice of the soloist from the Priory Church Choir as she sang the first verse of Once in Royal David’s City from the Lady Chapel and then to watch the choir process with the Master, Wardens, Clerk and clergy. Although we might have felt that we had already been bombarded by a commercial Christmas since September, this felt like the beginning of the real Christmas.
The choir was outstanding and treated us to some beautiful music from the likes of Rutter and Gardner and our sincere thanks go to Jonathan Eyre, Director of music, and Benedict Lewis Smith, Organist.
The readings of the lessons were equally outstanding and heartfelt. Senior Assistant Simon Wilkinson, Richenda Carey, Past Master Eda Rose-Lawson, The Clerk, Sarah Wood and the Master each read a lesson telling the story of Christ’s birth. The story was brought together by our Chaplain, Andrew Pritchard-Keens who gave a sincere address about Christmas presents, how Jesus was the best present and the importance of God’s presence with us.
We left the church to walk the short distance for a casual and convivial supper at Haberdashers’ Hall after which the Master spoke of Crisis charity remembering the homeless at Christmas and throughout the year. He also thanked all those involved in the service and particularly Jollyon ‘who makes every evening special’, and he wished us all a wonderful, fantastic 2018.