The Christmas story told through the beauty of music
Music and lyrics convey the Christmas story in a beautiful and poetic way, according to the St Christopher’s Cathedral Music Director.
Jaki Kane, the Cathedral Choir and Cathedral organist Ben Chesworth have been preparing for the Christmas Masses and carols since early October. The services commenced this evening with the annual Carols and Readings at the Cathedral and continue with numerous Masses over Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
“The music is such an important part of creating the atmosphere of Christmas,” Jaki explained.
“People can take it to their hearts. It touches the emotions directly.”
Friday evening’s repertoire included everything from well-known classics to ancient chants.
“Number one would be Silent Night – everyone loves to sing along to it,” Jaki said.
“We also work in some carols the choir sing on their own that are special to them. We like to include some Gregorian chant because there are a lot of old chants to do with telling the Christmas story. A solis ortus cardine is a chant dating from the fifth century. Each verse starts with a letter of the alphabet, and it tells the whole story of Jesus’ life from birth through to his death and resurrection. It is an amazing hymn.”
The choir also sang renditions of Croatian and Irish carols, among others, as a nod to former members.
“We enjoy hymns in other languages, often because we have had people in the choir in the past,” Jaki said.
“We used to have a Croatian diplomat in the choir, and she taught us her carols. It is lovely to keep these in our repertoire – they are lovely carols we would never have known otherwise.”
Jaki said many cultures keep their most important faith documents alive in song.
“It is a way of helping people remember,” she explained.
“The emotional impact makes it particularly touching. I have found that people who don’t have any particular religion still know the carols, sing them, and enjoy hearing them. Sometimes people will come along just to experience Christmas that they feel is important.”
Jaki said the enormous amount of energy the choir put into Christmas services was all worth it for the joy of the music.
“It is the love of singing together in a faith celebration,” she said.
“You can sing together outside of church, but there is something much more meaningful when you are all part of a mass.”
And when the Christmas Masses have finished?
“I’ll be enjoying a Christmas meal with my dad and siblings and my niece and nephews, who will have already prepared all the food,” she laughed.
“I won’t have to cook anything at all. It will be wonderful!”