The Service of Nine Lessons and Carols took place in a candlelit chapel and the Chapel Choir, conducted by Simon Bell, sang a mixture of traditional and contemporary carols. This year’s service included a commissioned carol by Malcom Archer – As I Sat on a Sunny Bank – which was very traditional sounding, in stark contrast to some previous commissions. Some of the more familiar carols were given a modern twist, such as Gabriel’s Message, arranged by David Willcocks, and Ding Dong! Merrily on High in Stuart Nicholson’s version. There were some reflective, tender moments in the well-known Coventry Carol and William Todd’s My Lord has Come. The Chapel was lifted by the congregation’s enthusiastic singing alongside the choir which was on excellent form and not only sang all nine carols with authority and beauty of sound, but also led the congregational carols, the sopranos in particular providing strong descants above.
The festive service included readings by all of the Dean Close Heads as well as a lesson from The Warden of the Dean Close Foundation, Emma Taylor. As the congregation exited to beautiful organ music, a retiring collection was taken to support OpenDoors, a charity that serves persecuted Christians around the world by providing vital support, delivering resources, and providing training. All guests were then warmly welcomed for mince pies and mulled wine in the Dining Hall. What better way to end the term.