The beautiful church of St Margaret Lothbury was once again the setting for the Annual Carol Service on 14th December. This was only my second Carol Service, but I already find myself agreeing with the many members of the Company for whom it marks the true start of Christmas.
The previous year’s service had taken place on a very cold evening and the heating system in the church had struggled to banish the chill from the air. There were no such concerns this year, with the temperature inside the church almost as warm as the welcome from The Reverend Prebendary Jeremy Crossley, Rector of St Margaret Lothbury.
In keeping with tradition, the service began with Once in Royal David’s City. The church lights were dimmed for the evocative solo first verse, with the second verse being sung by the Lothbury Singers under the direction of Honoray Freeman Richard Townend. The congregation then joined in for the remaining verses, accompanied by Mr Townend on the organ. All were in fine voice, and the church was filled with wonderful music.
The six lessons were read by the Clerk, Liverymen, Wardens and the Master, interspersed with carols sung by the Lothbury Singers alone and by the full congregation.
The Venerable Dr Jonathan Smith, the Company’s Honorary Chaplain, gave a thought-provoking address in which he reminded us, via an anecdote about festive shopping and a rose bowl, of the true meaning of Christmas. Dr Smith quoted from the carol In the Bleak Midwinter, where the most important gift is not a material possession, but love.
After the Blessing, the Lothbury Singers gave a beautiful performance of Stille Nacht, and the full congregation then rose for Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. We left the church to the magnificent sound of an organ voluntary performed by Mr Townend, with my guests remarking on the high quality of the music we had been fortunate to enjoy throughout the service.
I and many of the congregation then made our way to the Armourers’ Hall, where we enjoyed a Champagne reception followed by an excellent supper. The Master gave a short speech in which he thanked David Wylie, who is retiring as a Beadle to the Company, for his many years of service. The members of the Company had contributed to a gift of a decanter and glasses which the Master presented.
With the formalities concluded, members and their guests lingered over coffee in the convivial hall, before dispersing into the December night with the starting gun now officially fired on their Christmas festivities.
Liveryman Ed Renwick