On Tuesday of this week St Gregory’s, St John’s and St Mary’s Catholic schools in Bath joined together to put on a Carol Service that showcased the talents of our young people. The service was packed to the rafters, leaving not a spare standing space in the impressive surroundings of St John’s Church in the city centre. With Hayden on the organ and the folk group from St Gregory’s providing entrance music, it could be said that the celebration of talent began half an hour before the service even began.
With five minutes to go the Church was plunged into darkness as we prepared to journey from Old Testament prophecy to the arrival of our Saviour. After hearing the words from Isaiah “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”, a lone cantor guided by a single flame processed through the middle of the Church singing beautifully the first verse of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’.
The service proceeded with an abundance of congregational carols, musical performances, choir renditions and dramatisation of the Christmas story in the most prayerful of occasions. St Mary’s primary brought childhood memories of adorable nativity performances back to us all with their charming tableau – angel wings, glitter and tea towels aplenty! Their readers read impeccably and the seventy strong choir earned undoubtedly the biggest cheer of the evening after their interactive rendition of ‘Riding out across the desert’.
St John’s primary school were equally moving in their delightful performance of ‘Love shone down’ early on in the service which truly captured the mood, before their readers led much of the evenings scripture with such expression and charm. One of the highlights of the service had to be the sheer number of pupils involved from each school, and nothing demonstrated this more than the sight of a forty five strong orchestra seated in full view on the sanctuary. Whether it was the individual sections performing their rehearsed pieces or the entire orchestra performing as one, they brought a sense of awe and raised the roof with their collective talent.
Each of the choirs managed to add something special to the journey to Christmas we were creating throughout the service, culminating in the uplifting finale from the senior choir ‘Glorious’ – which seemed to be chiming in the heads of everyone for hours. At the end of the service Canon David recalled the message he received from Bishop Declan when he first arrived at St John’s – to bring together the people of Bath – and there in that packed out Church with collaboration from our three Catholic schools was a living vision of ‘A Future Full of Hope’.
A special thanks has to be given to Miss Townsend, our Head of Music who worked tirelessly to put together such an incredible exhibition of musical talent, to all our performing arts team, all those who rehearsed the primary school children, everyone who contributed on the night and to the parish of St John’s for allowing us to hold our service there.
Mr M Robinson