A Christmas Message

A Christmas Message

"I guess this is your busy time of year, huh?"

It is. Yes. Every year.

Choirs across the country spend the week leading up to Christmas rehearsing, preparing for, and singing many carol concerts and services. Many will already have done so through December, and before even.

Thousands of notes sung (for the altos mainly an E, but still) and hours of singing the same carols for different audiences, because everyone loves Hark! the Herald, don't they? And we might have a moan, or get triggered by another fanfare introduction signalling we're going to have to belt out another descant (which, lest we forget, are for life...), but I think there's not a singer among us who - if pressed - can't name a Christmas carol or anthem they truly, deeply, love. 
As someone who runs a choir-centric website and social media account and sings in a choir, I talk a lot about how much choirs work their festive socks off in the run up to Christmas.

I only occasionally, however, mention people for whom this time of year is equally busy: clergy. They sit alongside us and are just as busy as us. And, when I do mention them, they're often the butt of jokes. They are the ones who, if we're lucky, stand at the front of the church on Christmas Day and thank everyone who has made Christmas what it is. The volunteers, the staff, the musicians, the noble army of people who work without complaint (well, probably with a fair amount of grumbling; we've all met churchwardens) to make it all perfect. But who acknowledges the humble priest? (If you find a humble priest, let me know.) The ministry and mission give the music and mince pies meaning. 

Choirs are, largely, very aware of clergy, their work, their worship, (the length of their sermons down to the nanosecond). We know that many of us would not have a job singing this incredible sacred choral music were it not for them and their predecessors in helping to give that music meaning. So why don't we show them that we do appreciate what they do? Most of the time.

The Word - about which we rave so justifiably is - after all, in the beginning, God. And the Word was with God. And so forth.

The promise of Christmas music might be what brings people through the door,  with their festive jumpers and hot chocolate and mulled wine, but it is the Christmas message that gives everything we sing meaning.

So this Christmas, say thanks to the clergy who spread the Christmas message (with a variety of degrees of efficacy and length), to packed churches and cathedrals and chapels up and down the country.

May their - and your - Christmas be the rest we all need.
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