A reflection on this year's Carol Service

Sunday afternoon shortly before 4pm, freezing cold and getting dark. St Alban's pretty full but I find a seat near the front...

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Christmas tree and candles and the choir many more than usual (even men), and they've dressed up for the occasion.

I haven’t heard a Christmas carol since childhood and when they burst into ‘Once in royal David’s city’, I get the shivers, for I can remember singing it in school. And the choir is not just competent, it is superb. Again and again, some woman’s voice rises above everyone else’s, almost like an aria. I try to see who it is but they’re all singing their hearts out: the women, at least, as I cannot see the men’s faces. In between the carols, lessons unadorned from the Holy Book, read with first one accent; then another. Again, I remember ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ and the angel telling the shepherds to go to Bethlehem. The later carols include one with many voices going up&down and in&out most professionally, and one in Danish (no doubt to make the few locals feel we haven’t quite forgotten where we are). And then it’s over.

For an hour and a half, no tiresome politics, only pure religion, rejoicing over the arrival of the son of God as a child. Readings of purity, carols of joy, so one cannot but feel it was splendid, worth enduring the ride home in the dark and the cold.