One of my earliest memories of Christmas was preparing for the carol service in the local chapel. It seemed like everything stopped at school as we made numerous Christmas decorations out of paper, cotton wool, glitter, glue and the core of toilet rolls. The smell of Christmas dinners wafted down from the school canteen and into the classrooms where hungry wide eyed children sat humming the carols they had learned. Days of piling into the hall and standing in lines complete with the service sheet with old favourites like O Come All Ye Faithful, Once in Royal David’s City and We Three Kings of Orient Are. The headmaster as always waving his baton like some maestro at the Royal Albert Hall.
The preparation culminated in a full on performance at the chapel where the lucky children were able to sing their hearts out for their parents and relatives. There were absent parents but no one seemed to mind that much. This was our opportunity to shine and shine we did I am sure, even the urchins among us.
The Christmas concert also signalled the end of school and the countdown to Christmas Eve. Most of the children freshly versed in the art of carol singing took advantage of the musical training and headed out onto the streets where they knocked at doors, especially the ones, which indicated that the household was jolly by way of pretty fairy lights twinkling in the parlour. We knocked hard on those doors and burst into song. Often the inhabitants would delay opening the door because they knew the singing would stop and hands would be held out for a sixpence or a tanner or just a few pennies. For a young child the night’s work was rewarding enough to be able to go to the local shop and pay for those delicious sweets in the jars or even a small toy.
This evening I was reminded of those halcyon days after attending my own children’s Christmas concert at the local chapel on Horeb Road. It really is a superb building oozing warmth and history.
The walk to the chapel was along a country lane with limited lighting. As we approached the orange glow of the chapel lights shone out and it looked magical. Families stood outside queueing with their warm coats and winter hats and there was plenty of chatter and catching up.
The balconies decked in beautiful woodwork were once packed with people on Sundays. This evening the chapel was packed once again with families eager to hear not only their own child perform but to hear the whole school, that unique little community led by the dedicated teachers and assistants.
They didn’t disappoint. Each recital and song was met with loud applause and the children beamed with delight in response. No service sheets, they had learned each and every song by heart. If you could wrap up what these children offered and hand it to the parents and grandparents it really would have been the loveliest gift. It was for that reason that I had asked if I could record the audio and it is my pleasure to share that with you.
Please enjoy the children of Ysgol Mynyddygarreg’s Christmas Concert.