As a non-religious person, the idea of going to a service just doesn’t fit in my plans. I even find it a bit uncomfy to be there at wedding ceremonies. But, listening to Christmas carols in a cathedral seemed to be a nice, christmassy thing to do. The setting is magnificent from an artistic point of view, and the way the event was set up made me forget its religious nature. Keep on reading to find out why.
The event was called A Celebration of Christmas, and was sponsored by a well-known banking group as part of their community-bonding or CSR programme. I also learnt that the event is so popular in London that tickets go really quickly. There were massive queues outside St Paul’s forty minutes before the event, which wasn’t a good start given how cold it was in London. Queues went really quickly, though, and stewards and other people helping at the event made things rather easy for attendees once inside.
I couldn’t take many pictures, as the Dean told us that St Paul’s was a technology-free area. This also meant no tweeting. There were people of all age groups and, I could tell, walks of life. I couldn’t see anyone tweeting where I was sitting, which is weird for me, as I am used to live-tweeting at events.
By the time I reached my seat, I was already quite excited, as I had just been told that Jeremy Irons was going to read! The idea of seeing such a wonderful actor live and so close to where he was going to perform was just great. When I got the programme, I also saw that other renowned professionals where reading too. Wonderful!
Most of the readers are actors, and the event was indeed quite theatrical, with their use of lights and the music, as well as the way the actors read. The orchestra and St Paul’s renowned choir would play mostly traditional English carols helping to tell the story of the birth of Jesus. Every one or two songs, the actors and broadcaster would read. First, Trevor Phillips, then the actors would take turns.
The texts were mostly taken out of the Bible. I was surprised to see that the organisers had used other sources too, such as an Alan Bennet’s A Nativity Play and The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 1/4! All of the texts talked about Christmas from a different perspective, such as the father whose daughter is not playing Mary at the school’s play or the disappointed teenager on Christmas Day.
The conductor Andrew Carwood would say thank you to all of us at the end and crack a few funny jokes.
It was wonderful to see those actors reading/performing and loved the theatrical way everything was arranged. It made for a great evening, despite the religious nature of this event.
Thank you for reading my post and hope you’re already enjoying the Christmas spirit!
A Londoner from Afar