There aren’t may workplaces in which staff choose to gather to sing carols one lunchtime before Christmas. And while I don’t work there, I was in the building and ended up in BBC Reception in Belfast with sixty or so other people for half an hour yesterday lunchtime.
With 11 carols printed out, beautiful accompaniment on piano, double bass, guitar, and the dulcet tones of John Toal leading the singing, those gathered sang heartily for half an hour – and with quite a bit of harmony.
It was during the penultimate carol – Silent Night – that my brain started to fade in the voiceover from Simon & Garfunkel’s 7 O’Clock News / Silent Night track. As we stood singing, it was like a modern day recreation of their song, with the plasma screens offering a window out onto the world as we sang about
Silent night, holy night, Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar, heavenly hosts sing alleluia.
Christ the Saviour is born, Christ the Saviour is born.
Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams thy holy face with the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord at thy birth, Jesus, Lord at thy birth.
Nine lessons and carols is usually a bit closer to Christmas Day. But yesterday lunchtime, it snuck up on me. It might be the only carol service I get to this year, but it was worship, and it’ll be every bit as memorable and special as one held in a church building.