Saturday 30 November 2013. The preceding days had been rainy. Today-clear…cool
for the time of year. The Thomian community of NSW returned to the church where
their first carol service had been held in 2009; St. Anne’s Church Ryde. The facilities are
vastly improved with roads widened and parking more readily available.
After suitable organ voluntaries had been played, the veteran organist David Osborne
introduced the traditional opening carol, Cecil Frances Alexander’s “Once in Royal David’s
City…” sung on this occasion by the delightful duo Hannah Arnold and Anish Joseph.
The choir joined in verse two and commenced processing shortly thereafter. A descant
soared in verse 6 and the Bidding prayer set the scene for what must surely be the first
Carol service of the 2013 Christmas season.
The format of the service was, as always, the STC Mt. Lavinia Chapel model; much loved
and durable. As we know, this is based on the form for the service of Nine Lessons and
Carols, King’s College Cambridge, brought to Mt. Lavinia by its Chaplain and ours, Rev.
Roy Yin in 1946.
The congregational Carols were well-loved ones. The ‘Choir only’ Carols were chosen for
their content, in respect of both word and music.
The two Christmas Hymns, “Brightest and best” and “Christians Awake” added a nice
The inclusion of Lessons read in Sinhala and Tamil plus the translation into Tamil and
Sinhala of two verses of “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” were particularly
significant. These are now part of our evolving tradition.
The feature of the singing was the blend and dynamic variation. Vasantha Weerakoon,
with decades of experience in choral coaching and conducting, had commenced training
in September; meeting regularly with groups of singers…Basses, Tenors, Altos and
Sopranos. Each singer was given a Carol-book and a CD, on which their particular line
was emphasised to facilitate learning. The choir began rehearsal as a unit late October
at the Community Church in Marsfield. All that hard work bore fruit and brought a clear
message to the congregation while giving much pleasure.
Well over 300 souls gathered on this occasion…Thomian families and well-wishers from
all sections of the community. The auditorium was packed to capacity.
Rev. Clive Buultjens, Minister of the Anglican Church, preached a fine message. “What
does God esteem?” His manner is engaging and inclusive and his caringly delivered words
provoked much thought. The sermon was a well-timed reminder of the true ‘reason for
the season’. (A summary of Clive’s message follows)
To the members of the choir and leader, Vasantha: BRAVO! They gave of their talent and
time selflessly and passionately.
The STC OBA NSW had invested expertise, time and money in this Christian
commemoration. Their noble efforts are greatly appreciated.
Wishing you all, for the new year and for years to come, God’s peace.
STC Mt. Lavinia – Stone House (1960 – 1971)