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The Annual Christmas Carol Service 2019

The Annual Christmas Carol Service 2019

Parent Reviews

The Annual Christmas Carol Service took place Saturday, 7th December 2019. Below you will find articles from Belvedere parents who attended on the night. 

By Michelle Lynch, Elements Parent

The Annual Carol Service took place Saturday, 7th December in the College Chapel. This is an event I’ve attended on a number of occasions, but this year was extra special as I had a son singing in the Junior Choir.

It’s always a magical evening combining the spirituality of Christmas with the beautiful music and the inevitable sense of excitement that this time of year brings. And this year, once again, the boys excelled.

There were some technical hitches with microphones deciding not to work, but rather than throw the boys off their stride, they responded by singing a little bit louder, a little bit clearer, and a little bit more focused and determined. The result –every word was audible, clear and melodious.

The mix of music was quite special and the three choir groups: the Junior Choir, the Senior Choir and the Chamber Choir, each contributed in a very unique way. From the gentle strains of “Angel’s Carol” to the full force of “Run Shepherds,” each and every boy gave their all. The congregation even willingly participated.

Fr Paddy Greene SJ led the prayers and the boys chosen to do the solos and readings did so with confidence and reverence, all of which resulted in a beautiful service. The final rendition of “O Holy Night” was breath taking. A wonderful carol, sung in a beautiful chapel by a choir who quite obviously enjoyed what they were doing.

Although I’ve attended the Carol Service previously, I never appreciated the commitment of all those involved. The dedication of the teachers who take part in this production is without question. Fran and Ruaidhri give a huge amount of their time and commitment to ensuring the boys are word and note perfect. The music group and instrumentalists were utterly brilliant and added so much to the evening.

In the manic run up to Christmas, the Annual Carol Service is an opportunity to stop for an hour and remember what it is we’re celebrating. The dedication of all those involved and the very real passion and commitment of the three choirs. Fran and Ruaidhri make this an annual event not to be missed.

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By Ray Kennedy, Rhetoric Parent

The voices of Christmas past echo amongst the pristine white walls and ceilings of the College Chapel. Its majestic setting within the walls of Belvedere College SJ –a wonderful school which in itself is set in the heart of Dublin 1. Here the boys and the College draw so much energy and give back so much.

The voices of Christmas past here are not from a Christmas Carol by Dickens, but from all of the Belvedere Carol Services we sat, listened and enjoyed since our boys first participated in Elements. They are also perhaps the Christmas past of all parents who have journeyed through Belvedere with their boys over the decades. Our sons singing must surely continue to echo through that chapel as it did on Saturday December 7th 2019 when we as Rhetoric parents attended our final service and handed the honour to the parents and boys preceding us.

We learned in the early years that in order to get the best seats we had to arrive early. Towards the end of our Belvedere experience we learned that arriving up to an hour and a half early was best practice.

We also learned to ensure the boys made it to every rehearsal and Friday choir session when the maestro Ruaidhri and the caring Fran would give of their time to ensure the Carol Service – the highlight of the year - would be perfect. This year it was just that, perfect, as always. The song choices, the soloists and the musicians excelled.

As the entrance carol began, the candle bearing boys paraded by us with precision and in tune. Even the microphones not working added to the shared experience of what Christmas in the Chapel represents. It brought me back to the days when Fr Derek Cassidy SJ used to address the congregation and tell us how this time is about sharing and gives us a sense of belonging. We have always felt we belonged on those nights when Christmas began in the Chapel in early December.

The Junior and Senior Choirs sang “O Holy Night” and read the Robert Louis Stevenson Christmas poem. Ms Curtin warned us not to clap until the final carol – so when Mr Foley allowed us to at the end, the audience released a giant round of applause that was building up over the previous hour.

The Christmas tree glistened in the courtyard as we wandered to the majestic Belvedere House for mince pies, mulled wine, raffle tickets, crafts and the view of North Great George's Street shining at night. The shaking of hands and the fond farewells, the realisation that a special experience had occurred in this special place. Knowing that for six precious years we were allowed to stand amongst men for others and be part of it.

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By Una Molloy, Elements Parent

I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Annual Carol Service on Saturday, 7th December. The moment we heard the beginning of “Torches” outside of the Chapel, I knew it was going to be a special evening. There was a stillness all around in anticipation of the beginning of Christmas.

The combination of the Junior, Senior and Chamber Choirs did not disappoint as we were treated to a perfect blend of tones. They were beautifully accompanied by instrumentalists from the school orchestra, led by Ms Louise Curtin. The readers read with amazing clarity, they brought the words they spoke to life. The poems, reflections and readings told the story of the specialness of Christmas time.

Watching the young men sing, read and play in the orchestra, I was reminded of how lucky we are to be part of such a special community. The boys who participate in this special event take time out of the hustle and bustle of this very busy time of year, to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas and demonstrate ‘Men for others’.  Because of their selflessness, we were drawn into the true meaning of Christmas which is hope and love. 

Fr Paddy Greene SJ led us in prayer and the Headmaster’s address reminded us that many people find this time of year difficult and that the school community reaches out to those in need. There are many events that the students will participate in during the next number of weeks to help others, such as toy drives, hampers and the annual Sleep-Out.

The soloists were outstanding, a big step to take in a very crowded chapel. Well done to all of you. I certainly had a tear in my eye, moved by the Christmas Spirit.

We must say a huge thank you to Fran and Ruaidhri for their commitment to the choir. How it all comes together always amazes me, however that’s their commitment, dedication and endless encouragement to the boys. Thank you also to all of the students who took part in the choirs and instrumentals, as well as the readers. You were all amazing.

After this year’s Carol Service, I definitely feel the spark of true Christmas has been ignited for us all.

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To view more photos from the Carol Service, please click here.

To view more photos from the Craft Fair, please click here.

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