We had the Friends’ annual Christmas Carol Service in St. James’s, Piccadilly this evening, one of the best events of the Royal Academy’s ritualised year, partly because Lucy Winkett always manages to give it a good atmosphere – mostly secular, about the celebration of Christmas myth, but with the very faintest whiff of doctrinal ritual.   We sang all the best known carols – ‘God rest you merry, gentlemen’, ‘In the Bleak Mid-winter’ (Holst), ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ (I think this is what I had to sing to get into my prep school choir), ‘Good King Wenceslas’ (an odd setting by Bob Chilcott) and ‘Hark, The herald-angels sing’ in a wonderful setting by David Willcocks, who was still Director of Music at King’s when I was an undergraduate (not that I made the effort to appreciate it).


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