Today, my blog is taking part in a blog hop, organised by blogging chum Steph over at Blog in France. The idea is that you visit the participating blogs, whose owners will be posting about Christmas, expat-dom, writing or books (or all four). This is a great way to find new blogs and make new virtual friends. The list of blogs taking part is at the bottom of this post. Just click on the links.
It’s customary to offer a giveaway to people who alight on your blog during one of these virtual voyages. As a thank you both to my regular readers and to everyone reading this post, I have put together a slim volume of my blog posts about Christmas in France over the past two years. Just click on the book below to download your copy. It’s in PDF format, so you’ll need Acrobat Reader. You can download it to a Kindle but the typeface will be a little small. I have not yet mastered the art of producing an e-book – that’s for next year. I hope you enjoy it.
Carols at Cajarc
What better way to mark a Christmas blog hop than by telling you about our first carol service? As well as our regular date at the church in Parisot (Sunday 16th December at 17h00), the Parisot Choir was invited to sing at Cajarc in the church of Saint-Etienne. Cajarc is a pleasant town alongside the River Lot. I visited in autumn last year for the annual saffron fair.
The church is a little austere but I prefer them that way. To paraphrase Virginia Woolf, it is in the nature of churches to be cold and this was a church to the core. The heaters are placed about 20 feet up on odd chandeliers. Didn’t anyone tell them that heat rises? So our heads were mildly warm while our feet were freezing.
However, the church does have some magnificent wall paintings in a small room at the back that have recently been restored.
They had also rigged up a rather clever Chinese lantern-type affair depicting the crèche. This was a bit more original than the usual frayed and mismatched figures you see populating Christmas crèches.
Our choir is an international affair, with French, English, Scottish, Dutch, Belgian and Swedish members – and no doubt a few nationalities I’ve missed. Most Christmas carols are in English, of course. But we sang a few French versions and original French carols. We even did one verse of “Silent Night” in Dutch, which required considerable coaching. We added a couple of songs from our repertoire – two different versions of ‘O Nata Lux’ separated by hundreds of years; one by Thomas Tallis and one by Andrea Angelini.
We spent the early afternoon rehearsing for the first time with the musicians (the Camerata Ensemble from Figeac). Just as well, since some of us kept coming in during the instrument-only introductions. Director Peter Nowfel was metaphorically tearing his hair out.
Fortunately, as usual, we rose to the occasion. Only one or two little glitches remained – mostly concerning when we should stand up and sit down. The high point, naturally, was my reading of Luke 2 v 15-20, about the shepherds visiting the Holy Family. I did it in French, having been given the choice. In the event, most of the readings were in French. I could have switched to English but I decided that since I’d practised it long and hard I would stick with the French version.
For obvious reasons I was unable to take any photos while we were singing. A bigger audience would have been nice: there were about 60. Since we are the home team at Parisot, we are hoping there’ll be standing room only next week. But the denizens of Cajarc were very enthusiastic. The incumbent, Père Guillaume, sent an appreciative message. And an elderly French lady came up to me at the end and said, “I really enjoyed it. It’s years since I last heard a choir. I’m so glad I came.”
Blog in France Bloghop
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