SWEET Christmas music filled the 200-year-old St George’s Church in Penang, as Kuala Lumpur-based choral group Cantus Musicus together with the church choir entertained the congregation at the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.
The 40-member choir sang carols and hymns like Once in Royal David’s City, All Praise to Thee, Angels We Have Heard On High, O Little Town of Bethlehem, O Come All Ye Faithful, My Brightest and Best, Rejoice! Christ is Born and Lullaby.
The featured choristers were Beatrix Wilhemina Solomon, Meiji Khor, Chan Wen Li and Lisa Ho, who was also the music director.
They were accompanied on the organ by Peter Chin, Matthew Arwinraj, Jason William and Teddy Cheng with Cantus Musicus’ Tim Cotter on the percussion.
In between the carols and hymns, there were readings from the Bible by Dr Patrick Sweeting (retired United Nations Peacekeeping Department manager) and David Chiang (St Nicholas’ Home general manager) among others.
William, who is also the festival co-ordinator, said this was the third time that the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols led by church vicar Suffragan Bishop Charles Samuel was held at the church.
“More than 300 people attended the festival, which is especially popular with the local expat community.
“The church choir had been preparing for the festival since June. They would practise for two hours each week leading up to the event on Sunday, ” he said.
The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was originally a Christmas Eve carol service held in the King’s College Chapel at the University of Cambridge in United Kingdom.
This service, which is about the coming of Christ into the world told through songs and scriptural texts, was first introduced in 1918 by Eric Milner-White.
He was convinced that the Church of England at that time needed a more imaginative church service during the Advent season.
The popularity of the service was established when the service began to be broadcast by the BBC in 1928, and, except for 1930, has been broadcast every year since.
During the 1930s, the service reached a worldwide audience when the BBC began broadcasting the service on its Overseas Service.
Over the years, the festival has been adapted to suit the varied forms of service in many churches worldwide, but the message was always the same that Christ came into a fallen world of sin to redeem mankind.
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