Companions and their families were in good voice for the annual Fylde Masonic Carol Service organised by the chapters of the Fylde at St Chad’s Church in Poulton as they enthusiastically heralded the start of the festive season.
In this commercial age, there is something very special about a traditional carol service. Joyously communal, warmly inspiring and spiritually reflective, it reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas.
There is no better setting than the grandeur of an old church in the heart of a small rural town like Poulton-le-Fylde to cement the communal spirit and encourage a congregation to exercise their larynxes to the full. And a splendid job they did; full of gusto with a determination to draw the whole town into the spirit of the occasion. It may have been the accompaniment of the fine church choir that inspired the companions to perform with such passion or perhaps the idyllic setting was the motivational force, or the promise of free coffee and mince pies at the conclusion of the service. Whatever it was, the result was a delight.
Lead by the vicar of St Chad’s Church Rev Martin Keighley, voices were enthusiastically raised in joyous celebration of the story of the nativity in a superbly arranged series of choral sessions consisting of some of the most popular Christmas hymns. The service was interspersed with narrative lessons read by distinguished companions that included Assistant Provincial Grand Master Harry Cox, Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals David Randerson, Blackpool Group Chairman John Turpin, South Fylde Group Chairman Ian Ward, South Fylde Vice Chairman John-Robbie Porter and the Provincial Grand Chaplain Rev Canon Godfrey Hirst.
The enthusiasm of the congregation never faltered throughout the programme as they sang their way through ‘Once in royal David’s city’ and continued to rejoice in the yuletide spirit with other favourites such as ‘Away in a manger’, ‘Silent night’, ‘O Little town of Bethlehem’, ‘Hark! the herald angels sing’, ‘While shepherds watched their flocks by night’, ‘The first Noel’ and ‘O Come all ye faithful’.
As is customary at the annual carol service, a collection was taken by the first principals of various Fylde chapters and in his closing remarks, the Rev Martin Keighley, commented on the excellent attendance and the generosity of those present, wishing them a most joyous Christmas and prosperous New Year.
A marvellous festive afternoon had been enjoyed by the companions, their family and friends and rounding it off in perfect style, all retreated to sample the delights of hot coffee and delicious mince pies. It was a carol service in the spirit of Royal Arch Masonry that really heralded the true spirit of Christmas.