On Tuesday, 17 December the Church of St Mark & St Hubert held their Advent Carol Service. The form of the service has been used each year since the Church opened 25 years ago. Fr David Seeds preached on the reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Phillipians Chapter 3 verses 5-10, its importance as the central message to humanity, and its relevance to our Christmas worship.
Members of the congregation took turns to read the lessons, including Christopher Gray who expects to be received into the Church shortly.
The Church of Christ the Saviour, Bournemouth, Advent Carol Service took place this year on Sunday 9 December. Numbers were up on recent years and the enthusiastic congregation sang with joy and gusto. As the service is based on that anciently sung with the Magnificat in Vespers during Advent, the Magnificat was included, being chanted antiphonally. Further additions to the carols in the printed service were two beautiful solos by Diana Radu, Romanian Carols sung in her native language. The address was given by Subdeacon Antony-Paul Holland. He admitted that he had not always been “a great fan of carols” but had come to appreciate them for a number of reasons. There was the unity they offered “with our forbears”, those Christians of previous generations who had sung them before us and indeed who had composed them. Then there was their link with the scriptures, particularly “the prophecies of the coming of a Messiah such as those in the book of Isaiah, and the stories surrounding the Nativity in the New Testament.” Carols also helped us fulfil the numerous Biblical exhortations to sing and to join with the choirs of angels: “Our carolling is certainly an opportunity to join with this unceasing hymn of praise…”
On 2 December, some of the congregation of St. Thomas British Orthodox Parish at Charlton joined their Anglican brethren of the Charlton United Benefice for a candlelit Advent Carol Service at St. Thomas’ Church.
Presiding at the service was the Bishop of Woolwich (The Right Rev’d Michael Ipgrave), making his first visit to the church, assisted by the Rev’d Erica Wooff, Rector of Charlton and the Rev’d Lionel Kevis, Vicar of St. Mary’s, Leigh, near Tonbridge (which has long been a partner parish to Charlton), as well as the Rev’d Bennett Spong and the Rev’d Liz Newman from the Charlton Benefice clergy team. Abba Seraphim, who joined the candlelight procession, was invited to read a lesson, offer a short meditation on “A Light of Promise” and offer a prayer.
Following the service the clergy and congregation gathered together in fellowship & refreshments in the church hall.
For the twenty-second year the Church of St. Mark & St. Hubert in Cusworth Village, Doncaster, celebrated its annual Advent Carol; Service. Based on the seven ancient antiphons which were sung at vespers in the Western Church since the sixth century, they hail the coming Messiah with his prophetic titles: Wisdom, Adonai (Lord), Root of Jesse, Key of David, Morning Star, King of the Gentiles and Emmanuel. Sung between 17-23 December, they provide an appropriate preparation for the Nativity Feast.
Father David Seeds and Archdeacon Alexander Astill presided and there wsas a good attendance of the regular congregation and local villagers for what has become an important local event.
The British Orthodox Church of Christ the Saviour, Bournemouth, held their long-standing annual Advent Carol Service on Sunday 4th December. Following the Divine Liturgy a wonderful lunch of varying Lenten fare (soup, baked potatoes and salad, Romanian delicacies) prepared and brought along by several members was thoroughly enjoyed by the congregation. A small Christmas tree was decorated and other decorations soon adorned the back of the Church in preparation for the forthcoming celebrations of the Incarnation.
The Advent Carol Service was well attended with the carols enthusiastically sung by all. In the sermon Father Simon emphasised both First and Second Advents and suggested that a strong and healthy emphasis on the Second Coming helped us avoid an over-sentimental celebration of Christmas such as an excess of snowy manger scenes set amidst northern European landscapes. The sermon did, however, reply to those who totally reject carols such as ‘In the Bleak Mid-Winter’ with carping criticisms and explained that this hymn could be understood allegorically as referring to the bleak mid-winter of sin that had covered this world and from which the Saviour had come to deliver us.