H A R K T H E H E R A L D A N G E L S S I N G . . .
A few months ago, my Mum messaged my sister and I to let us know that, as a Christmas treat, she’d booked us all tickets to the King’s College Choir carol service at the Royal Albert Hall.
We’ve all loved the King’s College carols for as long as I can remember, and they’ve been part of our Christmas celebrations always.
We arrived into a London early in the evening, and found it to be unseasonably mild yet seasonably sparkly.
Fairy lights lit up the trees along the roadsides, and wreaths hung on almost every front door we passed as we made our South Kensington station over to the Albert Hall. Dinner was eaten on the hoof, and comprised of a selection of M&S’s finest treats…
I always feel as though the Royal Albert Hall is kind of hidden. It seems to be tucked away so well that it only appears at the last moment as you walk towards it, lit up though it is with warm orange lights.
Though of course, the lights outside were nothing to what was within…
We took our seats in the hall, and, like almost everyone else there, spent a good ten minutes or so gazing in awe and snapping photo after photo of the beautiful trees either side of the organ.
It looks like scene from Hogwarts, don’t you think?
Though perhaps that’s just because I’m rereading HP and the Philosopher’s Stone at the moment, and have just got to the description of Great Hall and its twelve sparkling trees lit up with golden bubbles and real fairies…
We found songsheets tucked between each of the seats and so warmed up our voices with a little discussion about our favourite Christmas carols, whilst the Philharmonic orchestra began to warmup on stage.
At 7.30 on the nose, the lights dimmed, and the King’s College choristers stood up ready to sing in the centre of the stage, with the Philharmonic choir to their left and right.
The opening notes of ‘Joy to the World’ began, and what followed was just…magic.
Choral music often leaves me with a lump in my throat, but hearing it live like this was something else.
The voices of the choristers, some of whom looked so little they can’t have even reached a double-digit age yet, were so beautiful and angelic and haunting that my hair prickled and goosebumps came up on the backs of my arms.
The music seems to wrap around you, in that space, especially if you take a moment to close your eyes and feel it ringing around the hall.
My favourite pieces from the night were ‘O Holy Night’, which was played with the full orchestra and has been my favourite piece of Christmas music for as long as I can remember, and ‘The Shepherds’ Carol’ which is my Mum’s favourite piece but was a new one to me.
The evening ended with three carols for us all to join in on- O Come All Ye Faithful, Good King Wenceslas, and Hark the Herald Angels Sing. As we all sang, I noticed so many of the families sitting around us leaning closer to one another, heads on shoulders and hands holding hands.
It made my throat tight, hearing 5000 people singing those familiar songs with their messages of love and peace, and feeling the festive spirit in the room.
It truly was something special.
After the concert finished, Mum, Cesca and I nipped back across to Embankment, and then walked the final way back to Waterloo across the river, which, as I’ve said so many times before on this blog, is my favourite thing to do in London when I’ve got a little time on my hands.
It was a pretty perfect evening, all in all.