This evening I found myself at the first of three carol services I will be attending before the week is out. It was held in the Studio Theatre in the Arts Centre that was refurbished and reopened just over a year ago over at Edge Hill university where I am a third year English Literature student. The five carols we sung were familiar to all: ‘In the Bleak Mid-winter’, ‘Oh Come All Ye Faithful’, ‘Silent Night’, ‘Little Town of Bethlehem’ and ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ (I may have got some of these wrong – made the mistake of listening to the Songs of Praise CD in the car home and now I’m a bit confused between the two!). It was great to hear them sung passionately by various students and members of our University’s Christian Union, whilst interspersed with readings from both Luke and Matthew of the Gospels.
As well as the readings, a guest speaker – whose name (like a lot of things about this evening) evades me – came to speak not only about the true meaning of Christmas, but also the legitimacy of Jesus Christ. Something that is, of course, a very interesting topic. From him it has enabled me to continue in my own agnostic questions of the position of God, Christ and religion in my life and the 21st Century. He passed on two books that will be useful to me in my pursuit: D.J Caswell, Real Lives: Stories of Changed Lives and Toolkit: Helping you share the Gospel and publication by Young Life re:sources.
It may have been an unplanned distraction, after all I was due to come home and continue working on my brief review of Elizabeth Robins’ 1913 essay ‘Woman’s Secret’ before presenting in Victorian Poetry on Friday – but Christmas Carols and Victorians are inextricably linked – are they not?