For my family, Christmas always used to begin at 3.00pm, Radio 4 on 24th December ‘Carols from Kings’, but since moving to Pagham, it has been brought forward 7 days or so by Chichester Voices Concerts in St Thomas à Becket’s Church with the excellent singing of carols ancient and modern.

250 people filled the Church with joy, anticipation and sense of community. This year money raised went to Rotary Charities with their members serving the refreshments. There was a short talk about all the good work Rotarians do for groups and individuals.

The audience was actually applauded by the Choir!! for their carol singing, but it was the Choir who raised the roof and our spirits with the heavenly, soaring descants, many by the beloved musician Sir David Willcocks b December 1919,  d 17th September 2015.

There shall a star come out of Jacob (Matthew ii; Numbers xxiv & Psalm ii) music by F Mendelssohn, began almost as Choral Speech. The gradual breaking into song was spine-tinglingly beautiful and is what we have come to expect from Andrew Naylor’s ‘baton’- sweet, soft harmonies.

Every carol portrayed a different mood or style. John Rutter’s sweetest music contained unusual, but enchanting chords to enhance the Latin words, Dormi, Jesu definitely too beautiful to miss by falling asleep!

Andrew said of Away in a manger – ‘but that carol does not need a descant’, too true, too lovely. The evening was certainly NOT all lullabies – the exciting rhythms of Tomorrow shall be my dancing day and the outrageous Twelve Days of Christmas arr. Bob Chilcott in which the different sections of the Church sang their particular ‘day’ . . . . well! I’m speechless – great fun!!

It was difficult to keep track of the brilliant organist/pianist, Richard Allum, for if you couldn’t see him, it was because he was traveling from organ to piano and back again, not passing in front of the altar, but taking the circuitous route all around the Church.

Thank you dear Andrew, Choir and Instrumentalists for a night in which to Rejoice and be Merry!


by Shirley Witcomb