Ilkeston - Sing-along-a-Christmas
w/e 24 December 2006
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

In The Bleak Midwinter

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Christina Rossetti's words may not be totally reflected in this image as there was no snow but it was certainly frosty and more than a little bleak in Victoria Park. Christina (1830-1894) an English poet of Italian parents wrote the words as a Christmas poem for a magazine and although she had several volumes of her work published in the latter half of the nineteenth century, "In the Bleak Midwinter", set to the music of Gustav Theodore Holst is surely the most well-known. Holst's family were of Swedish origin but came to England via Germany and he was born in Cheltenham in 1874. Famous for his "Planets Suite", he died in 1934 and his ashes were buried in Chichester Cathedral.
O Christmas Tree

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, much pleasure doth thou bring me!
For every year the Christmas tree, brings to us all both joy and glee.

"O Christmas Tree" is a traditional German carol ("O Tannenbaum") by an unknown lyricist but it was in Germany in the nineteenth century that the tradition of bringing a tree inside at Christmas and decorating it was started. Prince Albert is credited with bringing the custom to these shores after setting up a tree in Windsor Castle in 1841. Two Christmas trees have been erected in Ilkeston's Market Place, the smaller one being situated between the Sir John Warren and the Moon and Sixpence public houses. Both pubs will see plenty of custom over the festive period and this corner of the Market Place will be the scene of much "joy and glee". I suppose if there are too many people trying to get into the pubs, it will be another case of "No room at the Inn".
O Come All Ye Faithful

O come all ye faithful joyful and triumphant, O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, born the King of Angels; O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord

Originally written as a hymn in Latin ("Adeste Fideles") the music to "O Come All Ye Faithful" was composed in the early 1700s and was first published in 1751. The familiar English translation didn't come until 1841 but both words and music have stood the test of time and are sung all over the world at Christmas. The image shows the congregation in St Mary's at this year's Christingle service - one of many services held here in December.
Deck The Halls

Deck the halls with boughs of holly, Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Also in St Mary's Church to celebrate the birth of Jesus there are many decorations including several "boughs of holly" on the ancient stone columns. The music to this festive tune is not quite so ancient but is believed to be Welsh in origin dating back to the sixteenth century. Mozart used the tune in the eighteenth century for a violin and piano duet and "Deck the Halls" was first published in 1881. Although the author is unknown it is thought that the words originated in American.
Away In A Manger

Away in a manger, no crib for His bed the little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay, the little Lord Jesus Asleep on the hay.

"Away in a manager" is another carol from the nineteenth century that is still popular today especially with children when performing their Nativity plays. It was first published in 1885 in a Lutheran Sunday School book and although the lyricist is unknown, the music was composed by William J. Kirkpatrick in 1895. Whoever wrote the words I'm sure those in the verse "Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care, and take us to heaven to live with Thee there" were meant to apply to God's children of all ages.
Silent Night

Silent night, holy night Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

I chose the words from probably the best loved and most famous of all Christmas carols "Silent Night" to accompany the above image, captured as the church lights were dimmed at St Mary's Christingle Service. Written by Austrian priest Joseph Mohr in 1816 and set to music by his friend Franz Gruber it was first performed on Christmas Eve in 1818 in the small alpine village of Oberndorf. As the church organ was broken it was sung to the accompaniment of guitars. Since then it has been performed by all manner of instruments but the simple tune is still the favourite of all the Christmas carols with many people. I thought the words "love's pure light" and "radiant beams" were appropriate to the candlelit image but the final verse of the hymn being sung at the time, "The Christingle Hymn" would have been just as fitting if less well-known:

To complete the Christingle: a candle, telling us of the world's true light.
For the darkness shall not overcome it, Jesus shines in the darkest night.

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