I pride myself on not being one of those ‘o hum all ye’ people (see previous post): having had a church upbringing, the words of traditional hymns are in my DNA. And so I knew most of the carols off by heart at last night’s ‘Nine Lessons and Carols’ and didn’t have to struggle in the dim religious light with glasses and hymn books and service sheets. The only one I didn’t know all the words to was ‘It Came Upon the Midnight Clear’ – and who knows all the words to that? So that when it came to ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ I belted out the first and second verses with gusto and got ready to enjoy the descant on ‘Sing Choirs of Angels’, only to find that everyone else was singing a different verse entirely. ‘Oh, they’ve put in an extra verse’ I thought, and waited it out, only to find when I breathed in to give the choirs of angels a belt, that they were singing yet another strange verse. Weird. I fumbled for my service sheet to see what hymn number (or hum number?) it was. ‘Omit verse 7’ said the rubric. Verse 7? You don’t often get seven verses in a hum, as Pooh once observed. Or was it Piglet?
I think it was Piglet. Anyway, I scrabbled about in my hymn book (or hum book) and found the right page just as the weird verses ended. Who knew ‘O come all ye faithful’ had so many verses?
Apart from that it was a beautiful service with a full choir (St James the Greater is known for its music) performing subtle, graceful harmonies and thunderous unisons with organ voluntaries bringing up the rear. I particularly love the descant on O Come… where the sound goes up like a rocket into the sky and everything explodes together on a shower of song.
Hey, that sounds like a Leonard Cohen number…
After all that singing I needed a beer and so we lurched down the road to the Old Horse where I had a sadly indifferent pint of Tiger*. And thence to the chippy on the way home where I finished watching ‘Harry Potter and the Seven Dwarves’. Or something.
And so to bed.
*by which I mean it wasn’t that great, not that it didn’t care whether I drank it or not