On Sunday 22nd December 2013, the choir of St David’s Cathedral Cardiff performed in front of a full cathedral for the annual Diocesan Carol Service.
Led by Mr. Dominic Neville the choir opened the service with Tavener’s magnificent ‘Christmas Proclamation’ a piece usually found in Eastern liturgies at Night Prayer. The style is not within the usual range of the choir as the chant melody carries the people along in a long, solemn procession of prayer, where as the Western tradition usually contains pieces that are sung usually in praise and then prayer begins. This made the opening piece a delightful surprise for those assembled and set the tone for the prayerful nature of the service.
The service comprised of prayers, readings and chants/hymns calling to mind the gracious, unique event of the Incarnation as we approached the end of the Advent season. Throughout the service the choir had a central role in both leading the congregation in singing and performing beautiful renditions of old favourites such as “Silent Night”.
Archbishop George Stack presided at the service and delivered a thought-provoking homily based on the ‘Christmas Proclamation’ heard at the start of the service. He reminded the congregation that the Christmas event saw God break into human history in an unexpected way and therefore broke into the life of each human person through all time. The Archbishop then posed the question ‘What is it that prevents God breaking into my life today?’ and called everyone to contemplate this in the silence of their hearts because as the carol says “How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given”.