Posts Tagged ‘carols’

Angels We Have Heard on High

December 11, 2015

Angels We Have Heard On High, ThePianoGuys with Peter Hollens and  David Archuleta.

We Three Kings

December 20, 2012

We Three Kings, ThePianoGuys, filmed at Citipond at Bryant Park ice rink.

Merry Christmas!

ThePianoGuys hail from Utah, one guy on piano (Jon Schmidt) and one guy on cello (Steven Sharp Nelson), aided and abetted by Paul Anderson, Tel Stewart and Al van der Beek.

The name comes from a music shop in St. George, Utah, which was called The Piano Guys, selling pianos.

Looking for an unusual way to promote The Piano Guys, Paul Anderson hired the only pianist he knew Jon Schmidt, who in turn enlisted the help of cellist Steven Sharp Nelson, to film a few videos. Al van der Beek had a studio and helped with arrangement. Tel Stewart, a piano mover, proved to be a cinematography genius.

Nine Lessons and Carols at St Nicolas

December 18, 2011

Happy fourth advent, my friends. — Rudolf Schenker

Jesus taught us to serve, not be served. A message we should all heed. — Father Andrew

I have been to more carol concerts in the last week than I had up until then in a lifetime: An African Christmas Concert, Boiler Room Carols, a children’s carol concert, and that is not counting the awful carol singing at Creative Arts @ Costa at the beginning of December

An African Christmas
Guildford Boiler Room Christmas Carols
Children’s Carol Concert at St Mark’s

This evening I was at Nine Lessons and Carols at St Nicolas in Guildford, choir, Father Andrew resplendent in full regalia, lessons read by various members of the local community. We learnt the local St Nicolas School had introduced ‘value-based learning’ whatever that meant and a group of children sang their value song which apparently they sing every morning. Followed by mulled wine and mince pies and Fair trade goods for sale.

Value Song

Whenever you’re down, I’ll be there.
Whenever you’re sad, I’ll dry your tears.
Wherever you are, you can count on me.
I’ll carry your burden when it’s heavy.
Together we’ll share the load.
This is how it’s always meant to be.

We open up our world
and we grew from many friends.
We open up our hearts,
May this journey never end.
We found a place where we belong,
We can see a brand new day,
Embracing life together is the way.

Whenever you smile, I’ll join you.
Whenever you laugh, I’ll share your joy.
I’ll be there when you spread your wings and fly.
Whatever you do, I’ll be there cheering.
When you cross the finish line,
You can count on me to be nearby.

We open up our world
and we grew from many friends.
We open up our hearts,
May this journey never end.
We found a place where we belong,
We can see a brand new day,
Embracing life together is the way.

Sung with great enthusiasm by the children.

Give me a child until he is seven said the Jesuits and we have him for life.

The readings were from the King James Bible which this year has celebrated 400 years. Archbishop George Abbot, one of the contributors to the King James was a Guildford man, baptised at St Nicolas.

I was not quite sure why I was there. It was a lovely sunny day when I got up at midday, earlier frost on the ground, spiked the grass. I had intended to make the effort and prepare a Sunday roast dinner, but instead off to Guildford. By the time I set off, clouds had rolled in.

I lit candles for my lovely but sadly mad friend Sian, Paulo Coelho for writing Aleph and Canon Andrew White in Baghdad.

I chatted to a very pleasant Fiona, one of the choristers, and thanked her for the singing. I learnt she had read and liked Paulo Coelho. I told her of his latest book Aleph, of which she was not aware (Waterstone’s have a lot to answer for). I invited her to come along to Keystone Spirit at the Keystone Pub and Creative Arts @ Costa (first Tuesday of the month). I also said I would let her have a DVD of a talk Canon Andrew White gave a few weeks ago.

Curious ‘value-based learning’, I managed to catch the headmistress of St Nicolas. Apparently introduced at a school where the kids beat the hell out of each. They learn respect, to look out for each other, to respect the environment. I suggested she took the kids on an outing to St Paul’s in-the-Camp.

Anything that teaches children not to be greedy bankers or tax dodging spongers or corrupt politicians, to contribute to society not take, has to be welcomed.

I told her how impressed I was by the children at St Mark’s School and suggested she attend one of their concerts and then try something similar.

Children’s Carol Concert at St Mark’s

I thanked Father Andrew for the service.

St Nicolas is at the bottom of the High Street just over the bridge.

4pm Christmas Eve Christingle Service for the Children at St Nicolas Guildford.

8pm Wednesday 21 December 2011. Canon Andrew White at Pioneer Church in Leatherhead.

11-30pm Christmas Eve midnight mass at St Nicolas Guildford.

evening Tuesday 3 January 2012. Creative Arts @ Costa, Swan Lane, Guildford.

7-30pm Tuesday 3 January 2012. Canon Andrew White at The Vineyard Cente, Church House, Union Road, Farnham.

Children’s Carol Concert at St Mark’s

December 14, 2011
Children's Carol Concert at St Mark's

Children's Carol Concert at St Mark's

I went last year when it was one of the celebrations for St Mark’s, a Victorian Christmas, the children dressed as Dickensian characters (and some of the adults too). I was very impressed and that is what made me decided to go this year.

Victorian Christmas Carol Concert St Mark’s

There were plates being played on arrival, though this I did not notice.

It started with the children singing in a candlelit procession, with a few of the children already up front.

We were then treated to a Nativity, though not quite as we know it, more of a musical, if not a comedy.

A gathering of the angels. We have to tell Mary she is expecting a child. Why, does she not know, pipes up one of the angels?

Followed by more singing, poetry reading.

Towards the end we were treated to a rock n roll jive dance routine in the aisle. Earlier, many of the songs had a distinctive Caribbean rhythm.

As Ian said in his summing up and thanks, this was not the first time dancing in the aisles, even on the pews, when last year for one night only, St Mark’s was turned into a nightclub. And what a night that was!

GK’s Funky People at St Mark’s

And for the finale, in Spanish!

The children did everything, they were the narrators, the perfomers, the singers, the roadies, the lighting engineers, the only thing they were not running was the sound system and for some of the singing they had a musical director, but for most of it they ran everything themselves.

Very, very impressive.

We learnt from the Rector Ian Hedges that St Mark’s School had just received Outstanding from an Ofsted inspection, and if the rest of their schooling is as good as this it was more than well deserved.

Chatting to one of the teachers after I said I was very impressed. I added it begs what happens to the kids when they pass through secondary school and most emerge brain-dead, barely able to communicate. Only the lucky ones, who do not have the love of learning, an inquisitive mind, bashed out of them, seem to pass through unscathed.

Schools kill creativity

The schoolchildren were infant schoolchildren, some seemed barely passed being toddlers. Which only makes it all the more impressive that they can conduct and perform for nearly an hour and a half all by themselves.

A retiring collections was taken for a project in Africa that the church is supporting.

Synchronicity: Strange as it was only Saturday at St Nicolas, an African theme.

An African Christmas

Christmas 2011 at St Marks:

24th December – Christmas Eve 4:00pm Crib Service with our “Christingle” Appeal, 11:30pm “Midnight” Eucharist.

25th December – Christmas Day 10:30am EUCHARIST with carols.

Guildford Boiler Room Christmas Carols

December 11, 2011
Gaza blockade - Latuff

Gaza blockade - Latuff

I will spend this Sunday with love in my heart, compassion in my mind, faith in my soul. — Paulo Coelho

I arrived early, far too early, a group who could not play, a lead singer who could not sing, then joined by two more female vocalists who also could not sing.

I had not meant to be there so early. The plan had been to drop in on the Baptist Church on the way, then leave. Only to find the Baptist Church was locked and no one there, strange as there was people there the previous Sunday.

Once it got going, plenty of bodies to absorb the sound, voices to drown the sound, it was not too bad,

Interesting readings from many different voices.

The pleasure is in the giving, not the receiving.

Strange confusion of Christmas and Easter.

No mention of Bethlehem today, one large prison camp encircled by a wall, 2,000 years on and still under occupation.

Israel blocks Christians going to Bethlehem at Christmas
Christmas in the Middle East
Israel approves 40 settler homes near Bethlehem
Israel Turning Into Theocracy

Would the Three Wise Men, astrologers from Iraq, be allowed in with their gifts?

Partial List of Banned Items to Gaza Strip

Where would Jesus be today? According to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, at St Paul’s in-the-Camp, with the poor and the oppressed, fighting injustice.

Williams says Jesus would be siding with Occupy movement
Jesus would be with St Paul’s protesters this Christmas, says Archbishop of Canterbury

For those who like dressing up, a photo opportunity in your very own Nativity scene. It at least explains why Jessica was dragging a around a sheep!

Mulled wine and mince pies, and a small gift on leaving.

Guildford Boiler Room is a Christian community that meets at Stoke Pub in Guildford.

The Digital Story of Christmas Nativity
Canon Andrew White at the Boiler Room
An African Christmas

Keystone Spirit evening Tuesday 13 December 2011 at Keystone Pub (bottom of High Street behind St Nicolas Church), Guildford.

Boiler Room at Stoke Pub Sunday 8 January 2012.

Boiler Room at Stoke Pub Sunday 22 January 2012.

An African Christmas

December 10, 2011
An African Christmas

An African Christmas

An African Christmas, Christmas Carols with Occam Singers at St Nicolas Church, with an interlude of African Sanctus by Fanshawe, and readings by Virginia McKenna OBE.

The concert started with the lights dimmed and the Occam Singers at the back of the church singing, they then walked in a candlelit procession to the front. Excellent percusionist.

For me the highlight was the reading of three African Christmas stories by actress and wildlife campaigner Virginia McKenna, wonderful delivery of equally wonderful stories.

The Legend of the Showoff Who Prepares For the Visit of Jesus on Christmas Day
Parable of What Language Does God Speak?
The Parable of the Person Who Couldn’t Find God

Virginia McKenna and her husband Bill Travers had starring roles in Born Free, a film about lions in Kenya. I saw it as a child and can still remember seeing it. This association with lions led to the setting up of a charity 27 years ago to fight for animals in captivity, in zoos and circuses, this led to the protection of animals in the wild, then their habitat, and finally a holistic approach that also includes the people, with the focus on children and their education.

The Born Free Foundation operates mainly in Africa, but also now in India and Sri Lanka.

The concert was a fund raising event for the Born Free Foundation.

Talking to Virginia McKenna at a reception later, where she was manning a table for the Born Free Foundation, I said how much her African stories reminded me of the stories often told by Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. My regret was that I did not have one of his books on me as I would have happily have given her a copy. I did though give her a Christmas card with a talk by Canon Andrew White that he gave a few weeks ago and noted the address of this blog for more information.

Canon Andrew White at Guildford Baptist Church

The Occam Singers is a 40 strong chamber choir based in the Surrey village of Ockham. It was from the same village the medieval philosopher William of Occam, he of the sharp razor.


Synchronicity: Earlier in the day on my way to the concert I stumbled upon Tutu: The Authorised Portrait, one of those books that is an absolute must have.

St Nicolas Church really must get their act together re their notice board. No poster for this concert, but there was an outdated poster for something that took place on the 6 December (St Nicolas Day). Earlier in the afternoon I had been inside the church during rehearsals and seen posters for two carol concerts at St Nicolas. It goes without saying neither were on the notice board outside.

Guildford Boiler Room Carol Service evening Sunday 11 December 2011 at Stoke Pub, Guildford.

Keystone Spirit evening Tuesday 13 December 2011 at Keystone Pub (behind St Nicolas Church), Guildford.

Midnight Mass at St John’s

December 25, 2010
nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

I had not been to Midnight Mass before nor a service at St John’s, not that is if I do not count two weddings, thus a first on both counts.

I was tempted by a Christingle Service in the afternoon, curious how it compared with Christingle at St Mark’s a couple of weeks ago, but I could not make the effort to attend, so Midnight Mass it was.

I walked there in the sub-zero temperature, crunching through the snow, slipping and sliding on the ice. The church bells were pealing and the church lit up against the dark sky. The moon was shining brightly, the stars too in the dark sky.

The church was fairly full. It seemed little warmer inside than outside, though the Vicar assured us it was. I thought it was a very nice touch to invite the minister from the local Methodist church at the bottom of Church Hill to share the service. A very moving solo performance of Silent Night in German.

I thought of St George’s in Iraq. An Anglican Church with no Anglicans other than the vicar Canon Andrew White, many denominations and Muslims too.

Why shepherds? In The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho it is a shepherd who has the courage to follow his dreams.

On leaving a brief conversation with the Rector of Bethlehem today. Two thousand years ago under Roman occupation, today under Israeli occupation. Encircled by the Apartheid Wall, Bethlehem is little more than an open air prison. Christians, and even priests, are prevented by the Israeli occupiers from celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem. [see Christmas in the Middle East]

St John’s is the village church of Washingborough, sadly never open outside of church services and church fêtes and other special occasions.

It was a pleasure to be able to see in Christmas at St John’s

I would have loved to have attended The Messiah by Handel in Lincoln Cathedral. Maybe one day.

For my lovely friend Sian who could not be there. For Diane and Den who would usually be there but were Down Under.

Also see

Christmas Carol Service at St Peter’s

Victorian Christmas Carol Concert St Mark’s

Christingle at St Mark’s

Handel – Messiah – For unto us a child is born

Climate Rush carol singers prevented from lobbying

December 21, 2010

Climate Rush carol singers in St. Stephen's Hall, having been escorted out of Central Lobby

On Monday evening, I was part of a Climate Rush contingent in Central Lobby at the Houses of Parliament. We were there to, as the venue suggests, lobby our MPs on the importance of taking action on climate change. However, we were prevented from doing so by the parliamentary authorities and the police. Their reason? Our chosen method of lobbying: carol singing.

Following successful singing sessions in Hyde Park and on Oxford Street, we had decided to take our unique lobbying method to the heart of power, and to the men and women who sit everyday and govern our country. The coalition government has promised to be the greenest ever, but so far we have seen precious little evidence of this: the so called Green Investment Bank is at present little better than a fund, and George Osborne’s green promises are looking more and more empty as time goes on.

This is why we went to parliament today: to remind MPs on all sides of the House where their priorities should lie, in an appropriately festive manner. Some members of Climate Rush were however prevented from even entering the Houses of Parliament, and those of us who did gain entry had our lobbying abruptly halted. We were part way through our first carol, a reworked version of ‘I Saw Three Ships’, when the police and parliamentary security descended, plucking our carol sheets from our hands and escorting us from Central Lobby. The deputy sergeant at arms even put in an appearance to remind us that such festive cheer would ‘disturb the good running of the house’ and thus was not permitted.

Following this somewhat humourless remark, all of the carol singers had their details taken by the police, although some officers were barely able to contain their amusement at writing ’singing in central lobby’ as their reason for stopping and speaking to us.

At least one MP later commented that she was “sorry not to have seen [us]“, and to all other MPs who had been invited to a unique lobbying occasion, we can only apologize. Stay tuned, however, as this is certainly not the last you’ll be seeing of Climate Rush.

Posted by Climate Rush on their blog. Also posted on Crossing Points.

Am I surprised? Sadly no.

Sadly once again we are seeing, as we saw with the student fees protests a couple of weeks ago, the rottenness that lies at the heart of what jokingly masquerades as democracy.

We saw it earlier in the day when the spineless Ed Miliband attacked the trade unions for planning a wave of protests against the slash and burn of public services being pushed by the loathsome Nick Clegg and his ilk. It only goes to show how out of touch is Milliband. He would rather continue with the childish yah-boo public school antics across the chamber of the House, petty childish point-scoring of no interest to anyone.

Also see

Right to protest?

Do we need a “democratic right” to protest?

Johann Hari: Your right to protest is under threat

Christmas Carol Service at St Peter’s

December 19, 2010

I was actually wishing to go to an evening service at St Mark’s as I had never attended a service at St Mark’s but when I checked there was no evening service. St Peter’s then. But no, I did not feel like going, but a voice in my head told me to go.

I trekked through the snow. It must have been hovering around freezing as the snow was a little mushy, pleasant walking, and I walked fast to keep warm, but nevertheless by the time I neared St Peter’s I was chilled to the bone. As I approached St Peter’s I saw others heading that way, so I was pleased I was not the only one running late. The weather I thought.

I was greeted with a warm mince pie and mulled wine which was very welcome. People were wandering around, probably less than half full. A carol service I was told, which I thought was rather nice. I then learnt the service had been time shifted to 7pm, not its usual time of 6-30pm, so far from being as I thought late I was actually nearly half an hour early. The church soon filled and by 7pm, it was almost standing room only for late arrivals.

The first time I ever attended St Peter’s was a carol service about a decade ago. I was taking photos outside when I heard music from within the church. Investigating further I found it was a rock group rehearsing. I chatted to one of the group. Very generous of the church to let you use it for rehearsals, and the acoustics are excellent, I mused out loud. No, we are playing tonight, a carol concert, would you like to come. A group mangling carols did not sound particularly inviting so I politely declined. Later, I thought no, I have been kindly invited, the least I can do is have the good grace to accept the kind invitation. I attended and was pleasantly surprised. They were excellent musicians.

That was ten years or more ago. Now back to tonight. The lights were turned out and it was only then I noticed the pillars were encircled by candles. A very attractive scene. I regret no camera with me to record it.

We were entertained by a Monty Pythonesque nativity drama.

Christmas is a season of good tidings and joy, but is it for everyone?

Was it for Mary, an unmarried teenager who finds herself pregnant? Was it for Joseph who finds his betrothed not only pregnant, but not pregnant by him? He could have left her, but decided to stand by her. Think of the scandal. What were they to tell friends and relatives?

Christmas is not a season of good tidings and joy for those who have lost their job, those alone at Christmas, those who are homeless, those who have split up from someone with who they are deeply in love.

A strange translation of Luke. Sheep herders brought glad tidings. Sheep herders! The English language has the perfectly good word shepherd.

At least the reference was to a manger, not as I heard a few days ago animal feeding box!

Why shepherds? Jesus referred to himself as a shepherd tending his flock. In one of his tales he talks of being delighted at finding one of his sheep that had strayed and that one lost sheep was more important to him than the others that had not.

In The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, the central character is Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy. He has dreams, but unlike most people who fail to follow their dreams, he has the courage to change his life and follow his dreams. He also meets the mysterious Melchizedek who encourages him to follow his dreams.

I had an interesting conversion with the wife of the rector re making a labyrinth a central feature of the floor of the church. The floor has to be dug up during essential renovations, the pews are to be ripped out, it would therefore be an opportunity lost not to make a labyrinth a central feature of the floor space.

I was a little disappointed at so few carols at what was a carol concert. I felt very sad my lovely friend Sian was not with me.

At this time of year when our thoughts turn to Bethlehem, please give a thought to Bethlehem today. Once under Roman occupation, now under Israeli occupation. Bethlehem is an open-air prison encircled by an Apartheid Wall. [see Bethlehem Hidden from View]

Israel is blocking Christians going to Bethlehem at Christmas, including clergy. Why, because they are Palestinians.

One way we can help is by buying Palestinian fairtrade olive oil, for example Zaytoun which can be bought from The Triangle and many other sources. We only help finance ethnic cleansing by buying Israeli so-called Peace Oil which I regret to say is on sale in St Mary’s in Guildford. [see Peace oil or taking the piss?]

Also see

Victorian Christmas Carol Concert St Mark’s

The Digital Story of Christmas Nativity

Incredible ‘impromptu’ performance of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus

Handel – Messiah – For unto us a child is born

Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals

December 19, 2010

Do not have the time. Do not know how. These are common refrains, common excuses people give for not cooking, for dumping some ready mix of yuk seasoned with flavourings and colourings in the microwave or for ordering a take away.

Jamie Oliver adds a further excuse, costs too much.

Do not have the time. How many hours do people spend sat in front of a television watching brain-rotting moronic garbage, the opiate of the masses?

Do not know how. Well Jamie will show you.

Costs too much. Jamie costs out the ingredients and it works out cheaper than takeaways, ready meals or eating out. I would have been very surprised if it had been otherwise.

Yes, there is an initial cost of equipment and utensils that Jamie says are essential. He also recommends that you clear out the clutter from the kitchen so it becomes a working environment.

It is as it says on the front of the book, meals in 30 minutes. I found the approach a little disconcerting as the approach is for an entire meal, not an individual dish and that is the structure of each meal, you are jumping from one dish to another in a very strict sequence. I guess I would have been more comfortable had I also watched the associated TV tie-in on Channel 4, but why the odd broadcast time of 5-30pm!

Each meal how to is highly structured and it is important you strictly follow the structure. Along the way lots of hints and tips to make you a better cook and to enable you to turn out sumptuous meals.

There are 50 meals in Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals, 40 of which will be shown on the associated Channel 4 TV series. These are being shown in monthly blocks. The first month was shown before Christmas, more in the New Year. Meals for which there is an associated video are marked in the book.

Jamie Oliver’s 30-Minute Meals is the fastest selling non-fiction book ever! It sold 735,000 copies in 10 weeks! For a nation that does not cook, this is all the more amazing, though having said that, cook books are always at the top of the non-fiction list. Maybe it is the appeal of being able to cook an entire meal within 30 minutes.

Delia Smith’s How To Cook (Book 1) is the best-selling cookbook of all time, with more than a million copies sold!

For my lovely friend Sian. Merry Christmas.

Also see

Jamie Oliver’s 30-Minute Meals breaks sales record

Jamie’s recipe for quick sales: Latest book, 30-Minute Meals is fastest selling nonfiction work ever

Jamie Oliver Cooks Up £100m In Book Sales

Jamie’s Dinners

Jamie’s Italy

Cook with Jamie

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