Thominas young, Thomians old, wives and partners journeyed to St Anne’s Church in the Sydney suburb of Ryde for the 6th annual STC OBA NSW Carol Service. The annual Thomian Carol service at STC was introduced to us in 1947 by Rev Roy Bowyer Yin. He brought the model from King’s College Cambridge, where he had been Chaplain during the time Boris Ord was Choir Master of the world-famous Choir of King’s. Over the past six years the STC Carol Service in NSW has established itself as a favoured festive season opener in New South Wales for the entire family.
It began weeks before under the experienced guidance of our popular Choir Leader Vasantha Weerakon and David Sansoni who were fortunate to have been keen choristers in the Rev L.G.B Fernando and Roy Yin trained Choir at STC in the sixties.
The choristers are all volunteers who attend choir practice after a full day of work. Thanks to the dedication and efforts expended by the past batch of choristers the Carol Service has seeded an expectation in the community and consequently the STC OBA has never been short of willing and eager volunteers to participate in the Carol Service.
The increase in the number of singers was notable! This fact was celebrated, when Eksath announced eleven new volunteer-singers had joined our ranks! They all affirmed what a good time they’d had and are keen to return. The Choral repertoire comprised selections both old and new; traditional and contemporary; ancient and modern.
Vasantha had invested a great deal of time and study in the selection of the Carols; ensuring that they were (a) faithful to the Nativity and (b) within the capabilities of the Choir. The triumph of good over evil was proclaimed uncompromisingly. Opportunity was given for young singers to shine while the experience of the seniors was not ignored.
The Caribbean favourite, “The Virgin Mary Had A Baby Boy”, accompanied by Piano, Organ, Drum Kit (Cameron Duraisamy) and Bongos (Chitran Duraisamy) was a rousing affair! The choir was up for the challenge and delivered well the close-harmony arrangement of the piece, while being faithful to the ‘fun’ element of the rhythms and mood. Two ‘Old Thomians’ and a “Wise Man from The East” (an Aussie) sang the roles of the Three Kings who traversed afar…in sonorous and dramatic tones. It was a packed programme, rich in variety and substance. Indeed a fitting prelude to the season of Advent, as we turn once more to Bethlehem; and the Babe lying in a manger…
As always Vasantha Weerakoon excelled in his role as Choir Leader. A role he has played since the second Carol Service in 2010. Many in the Choir are veterans from 2009 and understand and appreciate Vasantha’s dedicated enthusiasm for the carols and music which have been dear to Thomian hearts and minds over the ages. David Sansoni who was directed by Vasantha gave the audience a wonderful rendition of an old favourite, “Good King Wenceslas” LGB trained conductor and Yin trained chorister combined to bring out the best in both which must have brought a smile to their old choir masters.
Veteran Old Thomian Kumar Rasiah opened proceedings with a detailed introduction of the preacher visiting Old Thomian Pastor Lohan Bibile who graciously set aside time during a family holiday to share a warm and relevant Christmas message with the audience. He spoke about the ‘loneliness’ of Christmas for some especially, those who have experienced a sense of loss during this period. However he ended on a joyous note speaking about the rich traditions and rituals that makes Christmas such a special time of the year.
As in past years the Carol Service has always been a community event. It rests on the shoulders of Mums and Dads who show up for Choir year after year. Choristers and musicians who are active and loyal members of the faith performing, for the sheer joy of being there.
The singing was glorious with the backing from David Osbourne on the Allen organ keeping the audience enthralled. The soloists (Hannah Arnold, Joshua Ramachandran, Naomi Mather, Navaranjini Olegasegarem, Alex Richards, Christopher Massillamany, David Sansoni, Kamal Weerakoon, Vasantha Weerakoon) gave additional flavour and variety to favourite carols. The readers of the nine lessons (Ronan Duraisamy,Ramesh Abayasekara,Shamistha de Soysa,Jimmy Buultjens,Daya Thayanadan,Dayantha Fernando,Duke Ramachandran,Graham Masefield) completed the story of Christmas from the prophecy of Prophet Isaiah to the account of Jesus’s birth by St Matthew.
In his thanking conclusion, Eksath speaking on behalf of STC OBA NSW and its ‘Thomian Carols Organising Committee’ (Kumar Rasiah, Senaka Jayasuriya, Ramesh Abayasekara) made mention that this event was an inclusive one encompassing the Sri Lankan and the local community, and the OBA was honored to host it at the beginning of Advent Season.
The social after the service enabled old and young friends to meet, mix and mingle. The logistics were well thought out and efficiently conducted a large crowd of attendees were served relatively quickly with food and drink.
The evening concluded by the traditional singing of the College song ‘Thomians young and Thomians Old’