“All Bells in Paradise”: The 59th Carol Service of Royal College!

The Annual Royal College Carol Service, formerly known as the Festival of Carols, which is one of the oldest religious events at Royal College, took place for the 59th year on the 11th of December 2014, at the College Hall. Though being an occasion mainly directed at the Christian and Catholic community, it is one of such events that showcase the high level of ethnic harmony seen within the boundaries of Royal College, with students from a multitude of faiths taking part in this joyous celebration.

The history of the service dates back to the year 1955. Mr. Dudley K. G. De Silva, the principal, took keen interest in the formation of both the Student Christian Movement and the Catholic Student Union who each year, takes on the responsibility of organizing the carol service. Principal Dudley trained and conducted the Royal College Choir himself, during his tenure at College.

The evening of Carols for the year 2014, began with a song item presented by the Junior Choir consisting of boys from the Primary Section aged 7 to 10. Throughout the years the Junior Choir has had a strong connection with its Senior Counterpart, with many of it’s members joining the ranks of Senior Choristers each year.

The main service begins with the hallowed quadrangle bell being rung seven times depicting the seven spirits of God. This is one of the only occasions at which the bell is rung, and the only of such events known to the general public. This was followed shortly after by a descant solo of the traditional hymn ‘Once in royal David’s city’ after which the Senior Choir proceeded through the Main Hall isle, joined in song by the gathered congregation. Afterwards the opening prayer was lead by the Student Chairman of the Student Christian Movement, Thiran Dhanapala.

Following this, the Choir Performed a contemporary carol “All Bells in Paradise” by John Rutter. The first reading, taken from Genesis I, was, by tradition, read by the Principal Mr. H. A. U. Gunasekara. This was followed by 4 more Carols, traditional and contemporary, and readings taken from Isaiah VII (read in Sinhala) and Luke I (read by Mrs. C. L. Attygalle). During the Offertory Hymn: ‘The First Nowell’ a collection was taken from the congregation followed by the Offertory Prayer.

The Old Royalists’ Choir then performed two carols: “God rest ye merry gentlemen” and “Mary did you know”.

The message this year, mainly focused on how faith in God strengthens people even in the darkest of times, was delivered by Mr. Prabo Mihindukulasuriya, Deputy Principal of the Colombo Theological Seminary and a former Chairman of the Student Christian Movement.

A medley: “Messiah”, arranged by Choral Directress, Miss Sureka Amerasinghe, was sung by the older members of the Choir. The congregation was greatly inspired and moved by this performance.

More carols followed with readings taken from Luke II (read in Tamil), Matthew II (read in Sinhala) and John I.

Ending yet another Royal College Carol Service, the Closing Prayer was lead by Geeshath Panditharathne, Student Chairman of the Catholic Students Union followed by the recessional carol “O come all ye faithful (Adeste Fideles)”.

The Senior Choir was yet again, trained this year, by the eminent Miss Sureka Amerasinghe.

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