There was some concern as we arrived for the Carols for Peace service in the City Chambers on 20th December this year. It had turned to snow and the big question was whether the singers, the instrumentalists and indeed the congregation would make it to the service. We needn’t have worried. Despite the weather, there was a great turnout of people and a really warm atmosphere to the whole celebration.
Scott Glasgow piped to welcome people at the entry to the City Chambers, Carissa Bovill and Clare O’Neill played for them as they went up the grand staircase, and music from the Salvation Army band from Rutherglen, a group of instrumentalists and the youngsters of the Southside Fiddlers greeted them as they gathered for the service. The service itself began with the singing of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” as Bailie McMaster, representing the Lord Provost, led in representatives of Glasgow Churches Together.
Bailie McMaster then welcomed everyone to the service which was now in its 9th year. It brought together (she said) the best of music, song, choristers and musicians, and gave an opportunity to take time out from the Christmas rush. She reminded the congregation that we were fortunate to live in a place of relative peace, with freedoms which we often take for granted. Christmas can be a time of stress for some; for others it can be a lonely & unhappy time. Bailie McMaster took the opportunity to thank the church communities in Glasgow for the caring work that they did to help the most vulnerable in our society, often in partnership with the City Council. They enriched the city with their values, values which went back to the earliest times in the city’s history when the church had provided protection and support for its citizens.
Archbishop Conti led the opening prayer for all affected by violence or oppression or the effects of climate change. The congregation responded with the singing of the blessing “God to Enfold You”. The Asian Christian Fellowship then sang an Urdu hymn whose theme of love was especially appropriate at this time. The theme of love was continued in the reading which followed, from the writings of Martin Luther.
After the singing of the Christmas Gospel, the reflection was given by the Rev. Bill Ferguson, Moderator of Glasgow Presbytery, before the Southside Fiddlers provided a musical interlude with a medley both reflective and enlivening. An offering was taken up for the Lord Provost’s charity as the Rutherglen Salvation Army band played. Everyone then joined in the singing of “Mary’s Boy Child” before the final blessing. The closing carol was the great favourite “O Come All Ye Faithful”.
After the service, tea, coffee and hot mincepies, as well as Christmas cake, were provided by the City Council, to ensure that everyone was well set up to face the cold weather outside. The Southside Fiddlers played some more toetapping music as people mingled and chatted and enjoyed the opportunity for fellowship. Yet again the service had put us in the right frame of mind for Christmas.