Following our excursion last year to St. Mary Moorfields, we returned in 2014 to our more regular venue of St. Bartholomew the Great, in Smithfield.
St Barts the Great dates originally from the Priory Church of the Augustinian Canons founded in 1213, and through the ensuing centuries has been both damaged, and subsequently restored, a number of times. Today, it is possible to read much of this history in the building, which has a wonderful atmosphere, particularly at this time of the year.
Our carol service also has its own traditions and history, and we enjoyed singing many favourite carols, as well as listening to the sequence of bible readings by Liverymen Andrew Pritchard-Keens and Rebecca Nelson, by our Clerk, by the Fourth Warden Bill Gammell, by Assistant Gilly Yarrow, and, finally, by our Master. The service was led by our Chaplain, the Very Reverend Colin Semper, who gave a most powerful address on the nature of the festival we are now celebrating. As Colin expressed it, the reality of Christmas is far from being cosy or sanitised. Rather what happened was a profound human and divine mystery – unthinkable darkness split by unbearable light.
We extend our warmest thanks to the Director of Music, Nigel Short, to the Organist, James Sherlock and to the Choir of St. Barts, for the wonderful musical arrangements, beautifully rendered, which added greatly to the enjoyment of the evening, and to the Rector of St. Barts, the Reverend Doctor Martin Dudley, for his hospitality, and for giving the final blessing.
At the end of the service we enjoyed an informal and excellent supper at Haberdashers’ Hall – a wonderful way to round off the evening.