Mercredi 23 janvier 2008

« Christmas Carols » in Brittany

Translation : Monica Butters

King's college choir
In England, during Advent, as Christmas draws near, people gather together to sing Christmas Carols. The carol singing can take place in churches, but also in public places, and even outside, in the streets. Collections are made for charitable causes. At the beginning of the 19th century, King’s College of Cambridge University instituted a special Christmas celebration which took place in churches and in places of workship, of which the religious aspect consisted of the reading of nine « lessons », passages from the Bible, the Ancient and New Testaments, always and in each place, evoking the fall of Adam and Eve, the Annunciation by the Prphets of the coming of the Messiah, and then the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Sheperds’ visit, led by the star, the Coming of the Magi, ending with the Prologue of the Gospel of Saint Jonh : « And the Word was made Flesh… »

Betwwen each reading a Christmas Carol relating to the subject : the English repertoire is of an extraordinary richness and of a marvellous diversity.

The presence of many English people in our region and the bonds of friendships arising from the Œcumenical Week of Prayers for Unity gave rise to the idea of transposing that celebration in order to effect closer ties between Catholics and Anglicans.

It was a British couple, Jonh and Lucy Gay, who had settled at Guingamp who initiated the fist celebration four years ago. When they returned to England, where John was continuing his training and his studies to enter the priesthood, a small team took over from them, which is how we came to sing and celebrate the Feast of Christmas in English, in French and in Breton at Guingamp on Saturday, the 15th of December, with faithful adherence to the traditionnal celebration.

The Parish Hall was scarcely big enough to accomodate, welcomed by the priest, nearly a hundred participants, of whom more than half where British, who arrived from the whole region : Bourbriac, Kerien, Plésidy, Bégard, Lannion and even Morlaix. It must be said that the event had been announced in the English contact magazine which is distributed throught Brittany. And it was wholeheartedly that we sang « O Come O Come Emmanuel », « Il est né le Divin Enfant » or « War an Menez ».

And, as is also the custom, at the end of the celebration, the participants were invited to mark their friendship with coffee or tea and cake, or cakes, Franco-English, of course !

Voir en ligne : Catholiques et anglicans fêtent Noël ensemble (in french)