This year’s Carol Service took place in the small but beautiful church of St. Mary-le-Bow in Cheapside, and started with a full peal of the famous bells, which rang for 45 minutes before the start of the service. Nothing could have evoked the spirit of Christmas more!
The original church was built circa 1080. The great bell of Bow, referred to in the nursery rhyme ‘Oranges and Lemons’ is the bell that repeatedly summoned Dick Whittington to turn back to London in 1397, and become Lord Mayor. Each of the current bells carries an inscription from the Psalms. The first letter of each spells out the name D. Whittington.
Our service followed its traditional pattern of readings, interspersed with favourite carols and music from the organist, the choir and Suzanne Wilson, whose lovely soprano did great justice to ‘He Shall feed His Flock’ from Handel’s Messiah, and ‘Silent Night’. Our Clerk Jollyon Coombs, Liveryman Elaine Howard, Past Master Peter Keens, Assistant Sarah MacLeod, and the Master each, in turn, gave the readings very eloquently.
Our Chaplain Colin Semper gave the address. He spoke of the current political and economic turmoil, and the climate of hardship now facing our Nation, and also of the ultimate mystery of Christmas; ‘The Word made Flesh’. Not just a delightful story, but a cataclysmic event that changed the world forever.
At the conclusion of the service, the congregation, which included many friends and family members, enjoyed an excellently prepared buffet supper, and drinks, in the crypt.
We are grateful to The Reverend George Bush, Rector of St. Mary-le-Bow, and his staff, to the soloists and choir, to the bell-ringers and to those who prepared and served the supper, for giving our Christmas such a wonderful start.