• Wonderful Carols Service

    24 December, 2018

    The format for our whole school Carols is based on the Lessons and Carols which is held at Kings College Cambridge. 

    This choice of readings and music was in turn imagined by the former Dean of York, Eric Milner –White, in 1918. He wrote the ‘Bidding’ and the tradition is that we begin with Mrs Alexander’s timeless classic Once in Royal David’s City

    Once again the Year 6 class began our Service with this piece. Jai…..sung the first verse as a solo as his class gathered around the Cathedral altar. So far so good, but we are in Australia and the classic Australian Carols which have stood the test of time were written by James and Wheeler.

    The Junior School Choirs, under the leadership of Frances McLeod, sang four of these pieces. Also included was ‘Brother James’ Air’, sung by Year 6. Mrs McLeod also added her touch by arranging the accompaniment and descant.

    The readings were led by the Captains – Senior and Junior, volunteers from each Day House, Julie Brabham from the P&F and Deanne Wade representing our Administrative staff.

    The Kindergarten students were centre stage as they, under the deft hand of Mrs Maggie Walsh, enacted the Christmas story as it was read. We paused to clap them and take ‘gigs’ of pictures.

    My address is attached to this report and it was a joy to have a former Chaplain, Father George Atkinson and his wife Robyn present. George led the prayers, and he and Robyn also stayed overnight for the Presentation Day. George was Chaplain from 1986 – 1993.

    The steps to the altar were heaped with gifts from the staff and students, which were taken to the 2BS Miracle appeal the next day.

    As we drew to a close Holly Hare from the Senior School stood at the altar to sing O Holy Night. We became hushed and were brought into a heaven on earth as we were entranced by Holly’s strong fragility and those words.

    In the Christian Calendar Christmas begins on December 25 but as the school year ends in early December we are technically in Advent, the season of waiting, and so we drew our gathering to a finale with the Advent hymn O come, O come Emmanuel.

    There are so many to thank, and in each of our gatherings at the Cathedral the Workies put out the chairs and set up, and then return at 6.30am the next morning to remove the chairs and vacuum. Cherylene Anderson in our publications office crafts the service into a memorable keepsake. The musicians have worked all term, forging and practising.

    The readers have also practised and overcome their shyness to walk up to the microphones. Then there is the Kindergarten cohort.

    They have been practising all term, firstly for the Thanksgiving Service and now for this Pageant which had a short run in front of the Macquarie care Residents. The Prefects for 2019 took their part too, by looking after the Year 6 students and their teacher Amy Munro, and as welcomers and ushers.

    May you too enjoy a time surrounded by family and friends, with a special place for the child who was born to be King.

    Father Paul Woodhart

    Address to Carols 2018

    How many here have made a special journey…to discover, to meet, to move away from home comforts.

    This is my theme tonight Journeys…and there are many examples in Scripture, especially within the shadow of Christmas.

    There is the journey which the heavily pregnant Mary and Joseph made,  175km, from Nazareth  to Bethlehem.  Then there is the longer journey of the 3 Magi, or wise kings, from Baghdad to Bethlehem, more than 1000km.

    TS Eliot wrote a poem entitled The Journey of the Magi which I read each year. I hope you might seek it out too.

    It was the journeying season as people were making their way back to their ancestral villages because the Emperor wanted a Census. For Joseph and Mary their village was Bethlehem 10k’s south of Jerusalem.

    I want you to think about a journey which you have made. It may be one by yourself, it may have been one with company. Were you just leaving or were you making your way towards a goal.

    Each year we farewell students from ASC to do a Gap year overseas, and we welcome Gappies to take part in our school; we grow fond of them and they leave. In Australia the summer holidays are punctuated with journeys.

    Now to return to the Christmas story, remember the journey of the angels, to announce with singing and light this birth.

    The biggest journey of all was the Lord Jesus, leaving his power and comfort to be one of us, to take on our flesh, to be Emmanuel, God with us. This is not a night to be understood with logic but a night to be understood with love and expectant mystery, for in this story, deep talks to deep. Earth is joined to heaven by a baby’s grasp. There is a phrase in TS Eliot’s journey poem which has the words: with voices ringing in our ears that this was all folly. God’s ways can seem to be folly, with hope through a baby, victory through a cross, love in the face of scorn, giving yet receiving and life after death.
    Journeys have a purpose…what was yours?  I am not talking about cruises, where all is a sea going parallel universe like a RSL or Leagues club on steroids. I am talking about voyages. Voyages to discover, to get away, to spread wings, to breathe different air, to be free.

    My only voyage was a week on a working freighter, the Patricia, to repair ocean and sea marker bouys, and replenish Light Houses along the south western coast of England. I have been on some journeys which were on foot- The Jesus Trail, from Nazareth to Capernaum, St Cuthbert’s Trail, from Melrose to Lindisfarne in the UK.

    When we pause and look around there are many examples of journeys with a purpose: Blaxland Wentworth a Lawson, who after discovering the way to these western districts opened the way for Bathurst to be proclaimed a settlement two years later in 1815. James Cook and his three journeys from England to the Pacific. Bass and Flinders and their round Australia trip in a small skiff to map our continent. Then 100 years ago, men from the great fight returning home to country towns, especially those out west.

    You and I have come tonight, young and old, by foot and by suv, dined or yet to go out, on a journey to be together, to sing to watch, and to hear the Christmas mystery.

    Lastly there is the journey of commitment, one which is only 300mm in length, from the head to the heart. Jesus Christ came such a long way for us to come such a short way. The head nods with aloofness, but the heart loves and embraces; and that is all God asks of us in response to this gift of the child in the manger, that we love Him back and turn our hearts to do His will.

    Father Paul



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