Written by Tiyashi Datta
Christmas is just days away, the yuletide spirit is ready to take over the city, and one can hear the sound of carols echoing through the walls of churches. The musical tradition of singing carols represents different emotions for different people.
“For me, it marks the beginning of Christmas. The singing, the jingle bells, the music and the sound of the guitar is when Christmas starts for me,” said Joyful Lobo, a member of the choir at Infant Jesus Church in Pune. Infant Jesus Church usually starts the carol service around December 16. Lobo’s choir of 67 people will cover nearly 450 families.
“On the night of December 24, we have one hour of carol singing. So, interested people can come and understand what Christmas is all about,” said Lobo.
At St Andrews Hindustani Church, carol services have already started. “We visit houses around the city and sing carols for the whole night for seven days. We start by 7.30 pm and finish by 5 am,” said Reverend Sachin Masih, priest-in-charge and a member of the choir.
At the All Saints’ Church in Khadki, carol services will begin from December 15. “We have our annual Christmas party, where the choir will perform and someone will dress up as Santa Claus to give gifts to the children. We will sing popular carols like Joy to the World and Silent Night,” said Shilpa Bernard, choir director at the church.
The Silver Bells choir is also set to present an evening of Christmas carols on December 15 at St Vincent’s School. Lorraine David, a member of the choir at St. Xavier’s Church, Pune Camp, said, “Carol singing is a different kind of music that happens once a year but it is very sacred, spiritual and truly uplifting.”
St Mary’s Church will hold its special candlelight service on December 15. “We will have Nine Lessons and Carols, followed by the candlelight service,” said Dr Nitin Joseph, secretary at the church. Nine Lessons carol service is a traditional service, in which nine portions of the Bible related to Christmas are read, followed by a carol based on each portion. The last song will be Silent Night and thereafter, candles will be lit.
While most choir groups are sticking to usual classics like Silent Night, Long Time Ago in Bethlehem and Joy to the World, others are not hesitant about experimenting. “For this year, I have picked out two songs by composer John Rutter,” said Bernard.
David is doing a different arrangement by combining traditional with contemporary to create a fusion. “We will combine the traditional carol Silent Night with the contemporary lyrics of another carol. These two will be in harmony,” she said. Some carols in other languages can also be heard in the city, with St Andrews Hindustani Church going for Hindi hymns.
Most members of these choirs are not professional singers, and they are driven only by their passion. Dr Joseph describes his choir members as “amateur singers.”
Though many church choirs like St Xavier’s, St Andrew’s Hindustani and Infant Jesus are doing door-to-door services, others are keeping their options open. “We do door-to-door service but since it’s a little hard, we usually ask people if they want us to come to their house and sing. We adjust the timings,” said Bernard.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines