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News and views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
Issue 7 Winter 2008

... Continued - Story of a Flower Girl

Today Judy Dowse and I lead a group of wonderful women who, Sunday by Sunday, generously give of their time and talents. With an annual rota, they work in pairs and cover around three Sundays a year, tending the flowers through the following week but as many of us as possible turn up for the three great festivals. The PCC makes an annual grant towards the cost of the flowers, supplemented by a small profit on our fees for wedding and funeral arrangements.

We would love more people to join us, so if this article has interested you do come along! Contact Judy Dowse (Tel: 383217) or me (Tel: 382985)

Merry music to the ears

What sweeter music can we bring
Than a carol, for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?

Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

What would Christmas be without carols? "A round dance with song", the dictionary definition, has pagan roots as well as Christian associations. Secular folk poetry, music and dance, joined hands with the more learned texts and music of the clergy in the medieval mystery plays.

Latin 'tags' and vernacular texts, popular music and medieval harmonies, were preserved for us by learned monks, and today we often sing and hear versions of the wonderful Renaissance round dance known in choral versions as In dulce jubilo and in the simpler congregational version as Good Christian men, rejoice.

The present day custom of carol services dates from the late 19th century at Truro, and then at Kings College, Cambridge in 1914. The symbolism of the lone, young voice singing Once in royal David's city contrasts with the lusty singing of congregation and choir, accompanied by full organ.

Christmas music is not confined to carols. Throughout history, music has adorned and enriched the liturgy. The moving of the hearts and stirring of the imaginations of those who experience the music, the words and the pictures must be the aim of those who create in these forms at Christmas as well as all the year round.

For strong images of the Christmas story, hear Malcolm Russell playing excerpts from Messiaen's La nativit organ cycle during Christmastide.