‘Tis the season to be jolly, and for many people that includes attending a nativity play and a carol service (or two).
School nativity plays are, of course, legendary in the bringing out the best and worst in children (and sometimes their parents), whether it is a grumpy Inn-Keeper telling Mary and Joseph to go away (and not come back), the Shepherds fighting amongst each other in the background, or the little Angel who steals the show fiddling with her wings. I pity those poor little mites with pushy parents, chastising them for not landing a leading role this year (“What? You’re not a sheep again?”). My own experience in Primary school was no different, as the Three Kings (of whom I was one) nearly came to blows over who was going to give their gift first...
A safer bet is to attend a Carol service or Midnight Mass, and Churches are only too aware that this is one of the key opportunities of the year to attract the not-quite-so-faithful through their doors. But – being less cynical for a moment – a good Carol service can really help you get Christmas on its way, combining some good hymn singing (and, let’s face it, those tunes are fabulous) with a touch of nostalgia, personal reflection and a reconnection with what Christmas, in theory, should be all about.
West London has a plethora Carol services to choose from, depending on your preferred style of worship and where you live. For classical music lovers, St Mary’s, Bourne Street, has a Carols by Candlelight service at 23:30 on Christmas Eve, followed by Midnight Mass with music by Haydn, Handel and Darke. St Luke’s, Sydney Street has a variety of carol Services, with Carols on Chelsea Green at 18:00 on Wednesday 19th. St Mary in the Boltons, Earl’s Court, has a traditional service of nine readings and Carols at 19:00 on Sunday 16th December. Also on 16th, in the heart of Hammersmith, St Paul’s, Queen Caroline St, has a Family Carol Service at 10.30 and Candlelight services at 17:00 and 19:30 (tickets required for the latter from the church office). But wherever you are, there’s bound to be service nearby in the coming week.
So, forget shopping for a moment, put down Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen, and go down to your local church for some real Christmas spirit.