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Carol singer
Alex Garnier
Carol singer

The Senior Carol Service in the Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel is always a highlight of the end of the Michaelmas Term. With COVID-19 restrictions in place creating ‘bubbles’ and ‘social (aka physical) distancing’, the College chose to create a recording of the service for the whole Pangbourne community, as well as family and friends to enjoy. You can view the recording here.

The recording was broadcast on the school’s YouTube channel, Pangbourne TV, at 5pm on the final day of term, Wednesday 16 December. The service included six Bible readings, three choral anthems, and four carols (shortened to ensure that the service could be watched within a 50-minute sitting). 

The video began in darkness, with the Chaplain, The Reverend Neil Jeffers setting the stage of the beginning of the world as described in Genesis by lighting a candle and the Advent wreath at the front of the Chapel. A beautiful a capella solo of verse one of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ followed, sung by Poppy (Chief Cadet Captain of St George) from the balcony of the Chapel. 

She was joined by the Sixth Form Chamber Choir, including the Headmaster, Chaplain, Mrs Jenny Clubbe, and Mrs Alex Garnier, for verse two and six. Each held a candle and lit up the front of the balcony of the Chapel while Director of Music, Mr Chris McDade, conducted them from the floor of the nave.

Readings were given by Cherise (Form 3), Ben (Form 4), Tom (Form 5), Phoebe (L6) and Senior Scholars, Andrew and Georgie (U6). The Headmaster, Mr Thomas Garnier, gave the final reading from the gospel of St John.

The Chamber Choir sang three anthems: ‘Adam lay Ybounden’ by Boris Ord, ‘A Babe is born’ by William Mathias, and ‘Still, still, still’ (in German) arranged by Philip Ledger, all from the front of the Chapel. On the video, during the first two anthems  the film cut-away to images including a tempting red apple, one of the youngest members of the school community, and views of the school’s beautiful 230-acre grounds and river frontage.

The Brass Ensemble (Daniel, Felix, Laurence, OP Lucy Perring, Mr Paul Speed, led by Head of Instrumental Studies, Mr Andrew Thornhill) accompanied the final two carols, ‘O come, all ye faithful’ and ‘Hark! The herald-angels sing’. 

With reference to the COVID-19 vaccines now being promoted, the Chaplain gave a thought-provoking Christmas message and the service ended with Dietrich Buxtehude’s majestic ‘Prelude and Fugue in D major BuxWV 139’ played by Mr Ian Hockley. The organ music was accompanied by a selection of images taken during the term which reflected many of the positive aspects of a term in which ‘bubbles’, ‘social distancing’ and masks became common parlance.