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People in Wales asked to sing ‘Silent Night’ on doorsteps on Christmas Eve

23 December 2020

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WELSH churches are encouraging people to embrace the traditional practice of singing carols outside their homes. The Vicar of Bro Eleth, in the diocese of Bangor, the Revd Dr Kevin Ellis, has said that this will be a way to “bring people together, even though we are apart”.

The initiative, “A Carol for Wales”, was announced on Monday by the Church in Wales. At 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve, residents across Wales are being asked to stand on their doorsteps to sing “Silent night” (News, 20 November). Those wishing to take part can find instructions on the Facebook page for the event.

Dr Ellis, one of the organisers of “A Carol for Wales”, said that reviving the Welsh tradition of people singing outside their homes would promote a sense of community during the pandemic.

“‘A Carol for Wales’ will hopefully, in the strangest of times and a single moment, bring people together, even though we are apart,” he said. “‘Silent night’ helps us to focus on the fragility and gift of life as we once again live, love, and laugh with the Christ-child.”

The Priest-in-Charge in the Denbigh Mission Area, the Revd Rebecca Sparey-Taylor, who is also one of the organisers of “A Carol for Wales”, said: “This year, with lockdowns and restrictions, it is comforting to know that we can still unite with others, by returning to our roots in the Land of Song and celebrating Christmas in a traditional way, raising our voices across our villages and towns to spread joy and peace across Wales and beyond.”

The Bishop of Bangor, the Rt Revd Andy John, said: “‘Silent night’ is one of our most loved carols, and speaks of something strong and bright in hard times. It will bring many people hope and joy and remind us that God’s light is stronger than darkness.”

The regulations on singing state that carol services can take place if they are held outside. Guidance published on the Church of England’s website for churches wishing to do so states that sheet music should not be provided, and, instead, people should be asked to download words and music for carols on their phones or print them off at home. It says that churches should use their safest and most accessible space to hold any carol service, and people should be encouraged to sit rather than stand (News, 4 December).

St Mary’s, Kings Worthy, and St Swithun’s, Headbourne WorthyA carol service on a farm just outside Winchester

A joint online carol service from the C of E and Christian Aid was broadcast on Tuesday from the C of E’s Facebook page and YouTube channels at 9 a.m. It included music from the choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields in central London and the St Martin’s Voices Group, and a sermon from the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams, who chairs Christian Aid.

Lord Williams urged people to remember that “the gift of Jesus’s life restores our ability to see clearly and to act generously — to be ‘righteous’, to do justice to what’s really there in front of our noses.

“Like the shepherds in Bethlehem, we have seen the night sky lit up with splendour and radiance; and with them we set out to see what it is that God has done and what God is doing in our midst.”

The diocese of Manchester will broadcast a service of nine lessons and carols on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on Facebook and YouTube. It will involve participants from churches in Greater Manchester and Rossendale. They include the choir from Bury Parish Church, which will provide two carols and the first verse of “Once in royal David’s city”; a version of “Hark, the herald angels sing” from the Dobcross Silver Band; and “Don’t be afraid”, a more modern carol sung by children from Edenfield C of E Primary School.

The Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, said on Monday: “Wherever you are this Christmastime — isolated at home, unable to get to church or see your loved ones, and missing the opportunity to come together in celebration — we invite you to hear the timeless message of Christmas with us, online. After a uniquely difficult year, Christmas brings hope and reassurance, and scatters the darkness which threatens to overwhelm us. Join in on your phone, tablet, or laptop, and let us celebrate Christmas together.”

On Monday, St Mary’s, Kings Worthy, and St Swithun’s, Headbourne Worthy, held an outdoor service on a farm on the edge of Winchester. The service of nine lessons and carols included music from a four-part choir, a giant crib, and a giant present, which was unwrapped by the Rector, the Revd Paul Bradish, during his sermon.

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