Scintillating Singing in the Frosty Air

Brightling Church at Advent“Music is the great uniter. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common” Sarah Dessen

Singing with others feeds the heart and soul, and thanks to all Fenella’s hard work, the ‘Brightling Singers’ pulled together a gem of a musical celebration marking the start of advent.   The church twinkled at the Brightling advent carol service thanks to all Simon’s ‘behind the scenes’ organisation.  The candlelight was ethereal and had an encompassing visual warmth as the winter freeze started to set in outside.

Where Advent comes from is seemingly straightforward: from the word ‘adventus’, or coming.  Advent stems from the 5th Century, when monks fasted in preparation for Christmas. Thankfully, in the mid-1900s German-born Gerhard Lang took pity and printed the first Advent Calendar (with sweets).

Carols are much more deeply rooted in our ‘winter psyche’ as pagan songs sung at the Winter Solstice celebrations.   ‘Carol’ derives from the old French word ‘carole’ or ‘circle dance’ and traditionally these communal songs were sung and danced to outside the church and at social gatherings.  Originally written for all seasons, only the winter solstice dancing carol seemed to survive (a correlation with keeping warm?).

Carols are thus firmly rooted in secular music (consider ‘Deck the Halls’, with its emphasis on weather and jollity).  However, carols started to shift to their current sacred form in the 9th and 10th centuries, with the first English Christmas carol on record being written in 1426 by a chaplain, who listed twenty five “caroles of Cristemas”.

According to someone on the radio, more than 400 carols were written this year.  Clearly, the carol’s charm has lost none of its musical appeal, be it a religious recognition, a recollection of the beauty of the Earth even in the depths of winter or a mother’s simple lullaby to  a child.

Thanks again to Fenella, Simon, Julius and all the Brightling Singers for all their hard work, but also to the fabulous audience – it’d be no fun without you!  Perhaps some secular carols can be aired at the next pop-up pub event.  If not carols, perhaps some circle-dancing …

In the mean time, don’t forget Wednesday 20 December 2017: Carol singing round the village, organized by David Gasson.  Assemble outside the village hall at 6:30 pm.