Posts Tagged ‘Christmas carols’

Angels We Have Heard on High

December 11, 2015

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

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.

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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