St James Park Carol Service

The last week of term for any student usually involves a great deal of celebrating end of deadlines, not a lot of lecture attendance and a fervent attempt to cram as many Christmas related activities in as possible. It always seems surreal having to think Christmassy thoughts so early on in December but when you’re such a big a fan of the festive season as I am, then it’s not such a bad thing.

 The tradition was no different in our household this year. After a whole afternoon of Christmas dinner preparation and cooking and an evening of eating it all, we planned to attend the University of Exeter Evangelical Christian Union Carol Service in St James Park football stadium. The event had only been running two years but having missed out last year, we were determined to give it a go and embrace the local Christmas cheer.

I know what you’re thinking: a football stadium is hardly the first place you’d associate with a Carol concert, but somehow it worked. We were surprised to find ourselves queuing to get in and the stands were absolutely heaving! There was something very ethereal about floodlights shining down on an empty pitch with crowds of people ready to sing their hearts out.

The service comprised of sing-along carols, accompanied by the brilliant Salvation Army brass band, performances from Soul Choir and the acapella singing groups as well as a local Primary school, Bible readings and short talks from speaker Graham Daniels. Graham spoke with humour, warmth and enthusiasm, appealing to us to listen to the Christmas story and acknowledge Christ in our lives.

It was amazing how over 3000 people could be silenced by the opening notes of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’; the thunder of voices singing in unison was nothing short of incredible. Everyone, regardless of their faith joined in and listened to the Christmas story, proving that it is the spirit of the season which truly matters.

I left the stands along with everyone else, feeling suitably ready for the holidays and uplifted by the atmosphere of the evening. It would be a horrendous cliché but I did have that warm fuzzy feeling inside…or maybe that was the after effects of all the minced pies and mulled wine! Either way I could not recommend the evening enough; it taught us all that there is more to Christmas than the commercial hype and that the true meaning of the season is something we can all celebrate.

by Sinead Buckingham, Razz Exeter Correpsondent

(image source)

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