“Candlelight, Angel Light, Firelight and Star Glow”: 60th Royal College Carol Service

An inspirational evening of song and worship

On Friday, the 11th day of December the Main Hall played host yet again to one of the oldest and most anticipated religious events of Royal College: The Annual Carol Service. The Service, inaugurated in the year 1955 under the auspices of Principal Dudley de Silva is jointly organized by the Student Christian Movement and the Catholic Student’s Union.

Preceding the main service is the song item by the Primary School Choir. Many of the students from grades 1 to 5 taking part in this segment later go on to join the Senior Choir and take part in the Main Service.

The Main Service commences with the ringing of the quadrangle bell seven times jointly by the Student Chairmen of the two organizing parties. The Carol Service is one of the only events at which the bell is traditionally rung and the only one known to the general public.

Subsequent to the ringing of the bell is the singing of the processional hymn: “Once in royal David’s city”. The first verse is sung by a lone soprano. This year this honour went to Rojith Dissanayake of grade 07.  Following the first verse the Choir proceeds through the aisle of the Main Hall.

The Opening Prayer was led by Shavinda Herath, chairman of the Student Christian Movement. The Choir then sang a traditional English folk carol: “The Holly and the Ivy”. The first reading taken from Genesis, Chapter 1 was read by the Principal, Mr. Upali Gunasekara. This was followed by a Gospel Medley arranged by the Directress of the Senior Choir: Ms. Sureka Amerasinghe. The second reading taken from Isaiah, Chapter 9 was read by Praveen Hapugalle of the CSU. The traditional carol “Hark the Herald” was sung with the congregation joining in. The Magnificat was read Jehan Peiris, Assistant Secretary of the SCM. During the offertory hymn: “The first nowell” a collection was made followed by the offertory prayer led by Charya Kannangara, Treasurer of the SCM.

This year the message was delivered by the Rev. Fr. Tony Martin, an old Royalist. His message highlighted on the importance of human values and their contribution towards building a better society. The latter half of the service included more hymns including yet another emotion filled medley arranged by Ms. Sureka Amerasinghe and the “Candlelight Carol” composed by the world renowned John Rutter.

The Service came to an end with the Closing Prayer led by Nilesh Narendran, Chairman of the Catholic Students’ Union and the blessing sung by the Choir. This was soon followed by the traditional recessional carol: “O come all ye faithful”.

Unlike previous years this years’ service saw multitude of instrumentalists accompanying the voices of the choir from cellos and violins to saxophones, trumpets, clarinets and flutes. As it is to the Christian and catholic community of College, the Carol Service is the most important event in every chorister’s calendar. It serves as a learning opportunity, giving them a chance to sing hymns from a variety of styles and cultures originating from different eras, centuries apart.

Royal College is renowned as an institution with rich multi ethnic harmony and the Annual Carol Service is yet another occasion at which this is showcased. The choirs, both Senior and Junior and congregation consisted of young and old Royalists representing every faith brought together by their love for music and their school.