Thursday, December 21, 2006

A little of the divine

I was 5 years at a boarding school.

Founded by a rector who firmly believed a classical education and sport could mold the man, if Groton could have wished itself to a more green and pleasant land (versus its own lovely, but pub-starved, western mass), we'd have been in top hat and tails before you could say senior prefect.

There were traditions there I could have done without, or taken in moderation.

But there were others - Latin, the reading of The Christmas Carol by the headmaster's fireplace - that I admired then and, in the years logged between now-me and the adolescent version a-sea in Groton's rarified circle, are becoming steadily more dear.

Most dear of all, was the Service of Lessons and Carols, celebrated just before Christmas break in the school's Gothic revival chapel.

For the year I was an undistinguished member of the choir, I was trained in these old carols. While I wished for Little Drummer Boy and Silent Night, we were led in Adam, Lay yBounden and Torches.

At 14, I found these thickly olde-english heavy hymns and carols unnecessarily obscure, more affect than seasonally-aligned. I thought that, perhaps, our choir-master had left one foot on another, more archaic, shore.

By the eve of the service itself, with the pews filled in and the chapel's soaring interior lit by candles, I was converted.

As the gathered shrugged off winter wrappings and took their seats, a tiny soprano (Ann) walked down from the choir stalls to the center and in a voice so high and pure there was certainly divine something present, sang Once in Royal David’s City.

And so began the service.

Here's it is - a Christmas treat.

Once in Royal David's City from Groton School.

C - mad for tradition, sometimes.

1 comment:

Travelling Soldier said...

I'd just like to take this opportunity
to wish you and your family all the
best for Christmas and the New Year.

Lets make 2007 a year to remember!