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My favourite carol

18 December 2015

Baroness (Elizabeth) Butler-Sloss
Chair, Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life
In the bleak midwinter
Because I love the tune, and enjoy the improbability of deep snow in Bethlehem as I enjoy singing it.

David Cameron
Prime Minister
In the bleak midwinter
Because It was the first solo I ever sang.

General Sir Nick Carter
Chief of the General Staff (Head of the British Army)
Hark! the herald angels sing
Because The words “pleased, as man, with man to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel” are a reminder to me of Christ’s example of humble, downward-facing leadership, which continues to underpin the way that we teach leadership in the Army today. It is no coincidence that the motto of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst remains “Serve to Lead”.

Connie Fisher
Producer, presenter
O come, all ye faithful
Because It has an awesome descant (though I’m also fond of “Silent Night” — in small doses).

Ian Hislop
Broadcaster and satirist
It came upon the midnight clear
Because The unsentimental verse about two thousand years of wrong, and our inability to hear the music of truth above the hubbub, gets me every time.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe
Metropolitan Police Commissioner
Hark! the herald angels sing
Because It means I can sing really loud and really high.

The Rt Revd Libby Lane
Bishop of Stockport
A spotless rose (Howells)
Because It is an extraordinarily beautiful, poignant bringing together of apparently simple words and music that becomes a carol of profound depth — best heard with my husband singing the tenor solo. . .!

William Nye
Secretary General of the General Synod
Of the Father’s heart begotten
Because I only sing it once a year (and sometimes not even that), which makes it special.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford
Chief of Air Staff (Head of the RAF)
Hark! the herald/Good King Wenceslas
Because They’re big, powerful carols which I can sing really loudly, and nobody will know that I’m out of tune.

James Runcie
In Dulci Jubilo
Because It has, for me, the finest line in any carol — “Oh, that we were there.”

The Rt Revd Rachel Treweek
Bishop of Gloucester
It came upon the midnight clear
Because Amid the noise of the world’s mess, it echoes the cry of my heart that we might open our ears to hear the song of the angels, and lift our eyes to see the Kingdom of God.

Joanna Trollope
Hark! the herald angels sing
Because I like its being so triumphant and rousing. I like the fact that everyone can sing it with ease and gusto. I like its being so affirmative, but not specifically about this soppy modern propensity for Baby Jesus, as if he never grew up. And I like the fact that the words and music match so well — not always the case.

The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby
Archbishop of Canterbury
It came upon the midnight clear
Because It puts hope and confidence in God at the centre of Christmas

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith
First Church Estates Commissioner
God rest you merry, gentlemen
Because I have always loved the phrase “merry gentlemen”, whom I take to be each a paterfamilias, smiling because “Jesus Christ our Saviour Was born upon this day, To save poor souls from Satan’s power”.

Admiral Sir George Zambellas
First Sea Lord (Chief of the Naval Staff)
In the bleak midwinter
Because It’s not gloriously noisy, or fussy, but thought-provoking: the bleakness of winter reflects the anxiety that they must have felt at the first Christmas, offset by the hope of the Christian message.

Big Issue seller
Good King Wenceslas
Because It’s what I remember from when I was a child

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