Wednesday, 28 December 2016

I did it because I could (a mini rant) - the First Nowell (aargh)

When I was a parish rector I always liked the service on Christmas Day more than those on Christmas Eve.  There was much less to fret about than at the Christmas Eve services in all their glory,

Christmas Day usually brought out the beloved faithful, whilst Christmas Eve brought out the twice a year folks.

I truly liked and valued the twicers and did my best to welcome them as Christ had welcomed me.

The Christmas Day service  had a different dynamic: - more intimate, less "busy".  That suited me well.

Christmas Day worship, (sans choir, trumpeters, and players of the shawm) has its own musical challenges.

I was reminded of this on Christmas 2015 when I was the celebrant and preacher at St. B's on Siesta Key.  I had not chosen the hymns.

The closing song was "The First Nowell" - all six verses. It goes  on, and on, and on.

By the end of the sixth verse I could scarcely give a fig about who had been born!


I was the presider again on Christmas 2016.  Our new and good Priest-in-Charge was the preacher.

Guess what the last hymn was?   Guess how many verses we were supposed to sing?

Please understand that I am a retired priest who has no legal authority in my parish.

Please understand that I am also a part-time curmudgeon.

As we approached the end of the service, just before pronouncing God's blessing,  my curmudgeonly self took over.  With less than a nod at my "boss", (the Priest-in-Charge)  I announced that we would sing only three verses of "The First Nowell".

No-one in the congregation protested.  The Priest in Charge went along happily with my usurpation of his authority.  The Organist was in ecstasies of delight since he did not have to play all six verses of a dreary tune.

P.S.   I think the song is popular because even those who are normally  reluctant to sing in Church can loosen their inhibitions and belt out:

"Nowell, Nowell, Born is the King of Israel".

All well and good, but three times are more than enough for me, 

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it more of an Epiphany hymn? Yes, the shepherds get a mention in verse one, and I guess they're looking at a star in verse two (a nice conflation of Matthew and Luke), but the rest is all about the Magi. I suggest in the future you simply sing the first two verses and save the rest for January 6 or whatever Sunday you are observing Epiphany.