Boys' School Carol Service - A Deep Lasting Peace
November 24, 2020 at 9:43 AM
After a year that has been so unsettled for so many across the globe, last night, we once again considered how lucky we are to be in New Zealand. How lucky that we were able to gather as a community to usher in the joy of the festive season with an evening of song and worship at the Boys’ School Carol Service. It’s always a very special feeling at this busy time of year, to stop for an evening, to sit quietly in the splendour of the Holy Trinity Cathedral and enjoy time with our boys, their teachers and families, as we celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.
This service is always a delightful evening of music; whether it’s the congregation singing time-honoured carols, listening to our youngsters raise their voices in song or our instrumental ensembles, music fills the air. As summer sun streamed through the stained glass windows, the service opened with the clear high voice of young Oliver Mar (Year 4) singing the first verse of ‘Away in Manger’ before the congregation joined in, setting the tone for a wonderful evening.
In his words of welcome, Principal, Mr Peter Cassie said that the Carol Service is one of the highlights of his School year. He said, ‘It brings our community together; it is a wonderful opportunity to hear our Performers’ Choir singing in a Cathedral; we are able to give thanks to our Year 8 graduates for all they have contributed and wish them well as they prepare to leave. And most importantly, we are inspired by Reverend Hardie as his message will challenge us to remember the real purpose of Christmas.’
Following tradition, the Head Boy, James Hiddleston and his mother Philippa, gave the first two readings, an emotional time for the Hiddleston family as James is their third and last son to complete his time at the School. Deputy Head Boy, Louis Spillane and departing staff member, Mrs Kellie Carpenter were also called on to read. Between readings, the Junior School turned, wide-eyed, to face a congregation well in excess of 1500 to sing ‘Such a tiny child.’
The Performers’ Choir have had restricted opportunities to sing this year so it was a pleasure to listen to their polished performance of ‘Carol of the Star,’ an adaptation of an old French carol. This was followed by former Boys’ School student and current staff member, Paddy Leishman singing ‘Someday at Christmas,’ more usually sung by Stevie Wonder, and the Middle School students singing ‘One Child,’ featuring solos by Ben Cleaver, Liam Jarvis, Jack Jiang, Porter Barkle, Ayden Singh-Ali and Miki Cronin.
Another tradition at this time of year brings the Boys’ School staff together, both teaching and administration, to spend time practising a carol together. This year’s choice was ‘Marie te po’ – the much loved carol, Silent Night, partly sung in Te Reo.
Every year, Reverend Reuben Hardie’s Christmas message, is keenly awaited. From boys playing cricket in the nave and erecting tents, to downing strawberries and pavlova - just when you think you’ve seen it all, he has another idea up his sleeve! This year, the Boys’ School set a target of collecting 2020 wrapped gifts for inclusion in the food parcels being collated in ‘The Shed’ – Saint Kentigern’s Foodbank initiative based on the College campus. With presents piled high around a tree, Rev Hardie called on five boys to each unwrap a present he had bought, to gauge their reaction. With a box of chocolates, a board game, a ginger bread house, a remote control car and…a cabbage, on offer, there was a need for one to remain stoic in the face of disappointment – especially with so many lookers -on!
Rev Hardie said, ‘Sometimes in life, you’re the guy that ends up with the cabbage, Things don’t go your way, you miss out, you experience a bit of disappointment, life gets hard. 2020 – I think could be referred to as the ‘year of the cabbage’…It has been a pretty tough year. You can’t always control what you are given, but you can control how you react.’ He likened this to Mary’s situation that very first Christmas as she was forced to travel to Bethlehem, give birth in a stable and then receive ‘late night visits’ from the shepherds and wise men with an assortment of gifts. Apart from the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, Rev Hardie reminded us that with the birth of Jesus came the gift of a deep and lasting peace – ‘Where Jesus is, there is peace. His peace is a peace that passes understanding. His peace is a deep and lasting peace.’
(It wasn’t all disappointment for ‘cabbage guy,’ Reverend Hardie swapped Seth’s cabbage for a gift in shiny paper!)
The Carol Service is always a poignant moment for the families of the boys in Year 8 as their association with the School draws to a close. At the conclusion of the service, as the choir sang ‘The Jubilee Blessing,’ with Nate McKay singing solo, the Year 8 boys came forward to light a candle, before Head Prefects, James Hiddleston and Louis Spillane led their peers from the Cathedral, marking the start of a new chapter in their lives.
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