St Margaret’s Church, Northam will be holding a reduced carol service, “Seven lessons & Carols”, at 9.30am on Sunday, December 20. The event will be socially distanced with attendees to wear masks. And they will be holding their traditional Midnight Service on Christmas Eve.
Alec McNeill of St Margaret’s Church, Northam told Ray Goldsmith: “as the recommendation is to keep Church services short we have decided that instead of our traditional annual ‘Nine Lessons & Carol’ Service it will consist of ‘Seven Lessons & Carols’.
Small volunteer ‘pop up choir’
“Carol singing indoors is severely restricted at the moment but we will have a small volunteer ‘pop up choir’ to sing for us. Although we have been unable to hold our annual festival and fill the Church with Christmas trees a small team of socially distanced volunteers have decorated the Church.”
The Service of Lessons and Carols had its origin at Truro Cathedral on Christmas Eve, 1880, when the Bishop of Truro, FW Benson, developed a service of scripture readings and supporting carols.
Some 38 years later in 1918, this format was adapted for Christmas at King’s College Chapel, Cambridge. The BBC broadcast from King’s College helped to popularize the Service of Lessons and Carols, which Cathedrals and small churches throughout the world quickly duplicated.
Christmas Eve event
“On Christmas Eve we will be holding our traditional Midnight Service to celebrate the birth of Christ. This year Covid restrictions will mean that we shall not be able to accommodate the 100 plus congregation that we usually see but with advance reservations we hope not to have to disappoint too many people. Although we cannot have Bobby the Donkey this year there will be a Crib with the baby Jesus placed in it at Midnight.
‘Bubble’ bell ringers
“The Service starts at 11.30pm and in advance two of the Church bells will ring out across Northam. Covid rules say that more than one bell ringer in the ringing chamber would constitute an unlawful meeting but we are fortunate in having two volunteer ringers who live in the same ‘bubble’ and can thus meet together indoors. Two bells are better than one.
“We will be having a “pop-up” choir, and already we have had sufficient volunteers to fill the socially distanced choir stalls.
A special Christmas Flag
“Children especially should keep an eye on the flagpole at the top of the Church Tower. We shall be flying a special Christmas Flag for the benefit of all Northam Children so that Santa knows where we are – hopefully he will not need to land on our new £400,000 roof.
“All are welcome but Covid restrictions will limit the number of Worshippers. So they can plan ahead the Church are asking those keen to attend to contact them in advance with the numbers of guests they plan to bring.
“To do this please contact Judith McNeill on 01237 470870 or email [email protected] to confirm a reserved place.”
top image: Reverend Derek Arnold