Let’s talk Christmas trees and start by praising the Parks Department at B&NES for coming up with a really good specimen to erect and light in Abbey Church Yard.
In a way, it stands defiantly outside Bath Abbey because the church isn’t known for having a Christmas tree inside.
A little fir in the entrance porch is as far as this historic building goes towards letting the smell of pine fill its portals.
Unlike the ‘mother’ church at Wells which always has a whopper to add colour and excitement to those heartily-sung Christmas carols.
However, Bath Abbey will fall in line this Christmas – if only briefly. The BBC are filming a morning service – live on Christmas Day – and it is my understanding that they have asked for trees to decorate the joyful scene.
How long they stay after that is not up to me. At least when the great West Doors are opened during the run up to Christmas the wonderful fir tree in Abbey Church Yard will let its light shine in.
Meanwhile Bath Abbey has issued a Press Release about the Christmas Day service:
“Viewers across Britain and around the world will be able to join Bath Abbey on Christmas Day. The BBC will be broadcasting to homes across the nation at 10am on BBC One, the first time a Christmas Day service has been broadcast on TV from Bath.
The service will highlight the importance of hope in the Christmas story, how it continues to inspire to this day, and highlight how the Church and its community puts its faith into action – from supporting homeless people here in Bath, to sharing in the everyday lives of people in the West Bank.
The Abbey’s international links will be brought to life with personal reflections from James Playfair on the work of ‘Reaching The Unreached’ in Tamil Nadu, Southern India: supporting socially and economically excluded families. The Revd Prebendary Edward Mason will talk about his visit to the West Bank and his meeting with the Mayor of Beit Sahour. Closer to home, Gloria Ware of Lifeline, a project for homeless and vulnerably housed people in the Bath area, will speak about her faith and how it supports her work.
The service will feature Bath Abbey’s boys, girls and men’s choirs, as well as the Melody Makers, the Abbey’s choir for children aged 6 to 11.
The service will include favourite readings and carols, including classics such as O Come All Ye Faithful, Hark the Herald Angels Sing and In the Bleak Midwinter, as well as contemporary music by Jonathan Dove and Will Todd.
On the theme of the service, Revd Prebendary Edward Mason, Rector of Bath Abbey, said: “We are thrilled to be given the opportunity to help millions of people celebrate Christmas. We would like everyone who watches at home to feel part of the service and to catch something of the healing hope brought by Jesus Christ at Christmas. This has been a difficult year for the world and we also have our own personal needs. We hope that the service will be a great encouragement to millions.”
Speaking about the musical arrangements on the day, Dr Peter King, Director of Music at Bath Abbey, said: “The Missa Brevis by Jonathan Dove was commissioned by the Cathedral Organists’ Association and composed in 2009. It has quickly established itself in the repertoire of cathedral choirs up and down the country. My Lord Has Come by Will Todd was first published in 2011. Together, these two composers bring a contemporary feel to a service which includes more traditional carols. This year, we will be returning to descants composed by Sir David Willcocks who passed away in September this year.”