Thomian Choir heralds the Advent Season, Christmas Jubilation, A thought provoking yet poignant Christmas message
Saturday, 18th December 2021 was a day unlike any other in the extended wet spring weather, it changed dramatically taking all by surprise by evening to a sweltering 29 degrees. But the faithful were undeterred albeit almost halved due to omicron cluster breakout over the preceding week.
Preparation for this important event in the OBA calendar was in the making by mid-year by the trainer et conductor, Vasantha Weerakoon planning the carols with intent and focus to weave a pattern to the traditional nine lessons.
A change in the arrangement of the traditional “Once, in Royal David’s City” was preceded by an introit a fanfare-like Choral and Organ outburst, “Come Christians Join To Sing” was welcome introduction. Together with this carol there were six new carols introduced to the repertoire of 15 carols. “Come Christians Joins To Sing , Joy Has Dawned, The Race That Long In Darkness Pined, How Should A King Come, Naam Navilum (A Tamil Carol), The Shepherd’s Cradle Song”.
The order of service was designed to follow the traditional nine lessons interweaved with carols which had relevant significance. It was a joyous occasion! A fitting, majestic expression of praise and worship to commemorate God’s greatest gift to humankind, the gift of love, Jesus of Nazareth.
The story and message of the Nativity clearly and powerfully was delivered by Rev Kamal Weerakoon, a former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, NSW and an old boy of S.Thomas’ College. Basing his message passage from the Gospel of Luke, 2:10-11, he said
“ Jesus is the reason for the season. The angel told the shepherds to rejoice because of him” He expanded his message on three points, quote “The good news for everyone is that, 1. Jesus is the CHRIST, God’s promised king. 2.And because he’s God’s promised king, he’s LORD – he’s boss over everyone. 3.And therefore, he can SAVE us. Jesus can rescue us from ultimate, cosmic, eternal fear and misery: being judged by God, and shut out from his presence.”
Godelieve Ghavalas the organist for the Carol service for five consecutive years was in her element on the Pipe Organ! cherished memories of Mt. Lavinia of Lucian Nethsingha, Rev. L.G.B. Fernando and Russel Bartholomeusz filled the mind and soothed the senses.
The Thomian Choir gave a remarkable and soulful performance, delivering each Carol with a judicious mix of power, devotion and reverence. From the first strains of the introit “Come Christians Joins To Sing” followed by “Once in Royal David’s City”, the solo verse sung beautifully by Nemeka Ramanayake , to the mighty finale, “Sing Choirs of Angels” thundered from the west door, the congregation was transfixed. The congregational carols were sung with much joy and conviction.
The Band deserves honourable mention. The typically “western” combination of instruments crossed over effortlessly, from the throb of the rhythms of the ‘occident’ to the infectious ‘pulse’ of Sri Lanka, both Tamil (Naam Navilum) and Sinhala (Seenu Hundin).
The Warden of S.Thomas’ College Mt Lavinia in his traditional message makes a poignant reference to the occasion, quote “Christmas reminds us therefore year in and year out that no matter how dark the circumstances around us may be the light of God continues to shine and the darkness can never overcome it (John 1: 5)”. We remind ourselves that this Carol Service (Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols) celebrated since 1947 at the Chapel of the Transfiguration was introduced to S. Thomas’ by the legendary Chaplain, Canon Roy Yin, (who himself had served as a Chaplain at King’s College, Cambridge where the service format has first been introduced and perfected by his Dean, Eric Milner-White), treasure this service as part of the tradition to which they belong. It is significant that wherever life’s pilgrimage has taken Thomians they have attempted to replicate this Service just as the old boys in New South Wales have been doing in Sydney these past years.
The Bible Lessons were read by Suvendrini Abayasekara and Jenny Pitman from the Choir, Gyan Fernando, Nihal Ramanayake, Jerome Gasperson, Praha Sellappa, Vijendra Watson, Sanjiv Vivekanandan and David Sansoni from STC OBANSW/ACT.
Attention is drawn to and commend the “Thank you” page in the souvenir booklet, where special thanks were extended to Rev. Owen Goddard, Rector of All Saints Church Parramatta for his ready assistance and hospitality and to Ray Gok for his expertise on the sound desk.
A time for fellowship over refreshments followed at the Church Ministry Hall. The carol service committee wish to thank all those who came forward to help collectively. A thoroughly enjoyable night, the guests left feeling restored, appreciative, and very festive.
The STC OBA NSW & ACT has excelled once again!
A recording of the Carol service will be uploaded on the STCOBANSW/ACT Website YouTube channel. A communique will follow as soon as its made available.
We look forward to your participation at the IXVth Thomian Carol Service on Saturday 26th November 2022.
The Organising committee, Thomian Carol Service, STCOBANSW/ACT