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An alternative Nine Lessons and Carols

Published: 11th January 2022

One of the readings at Hanbury ChurchWhen the service of Nine Lessons and Carols in Hanbury Church had to be cancelled due to Covid, the team found an alternative way of holding the event, reaching many more people as a result. 

Chair of the PCC, Sue Jenkins explains: 

Lit cross at Hanbury ChurchThe church was already fully decorated, and arrangements for mulled wine and mince pies were in place, and the organist and ALM were prepared. The church was specially atmospherically lit with lights loaned from nearby Hanbury Hall.

It was our extremely creative and committed verger and ex-churchwarden, Judith Burman who had an alternative idea.Crib at Hanbury Church

At very short notice, she produced an extra display of attractively framed copies of the readings that had been planned, surrounded with strings of lights and nativity figures collected over the years.

A one-way system of walking through the church was introduced, starting with official welcomers and a cup of mulled wine plus a mince pie, filing past all the displays and crib, and ending with a chance to speak to our ALM, John Spencer. He was robed and offered the opportunity to light a battery lit votive candle which could be placed on the altar of the side Vernon chapel, together with a written prayer. These were left in place and added to on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.Prayers at Hanbury church

The event took place over two hours rather than one. It was suggested that it should take each person about 15 minutes to walk through, thus spreading out the attendance and allowing social distancing, though some families attended in their groups, and many stayed longer. Our new concert organist, Keith Hearnshaw, played Christmas music for the first hour, and suitable music was streamed over the loudspeaker system for the second hour.

The whole event was very popular and well attended, having been advertised quickly by poster and on the church website.Poster advertising event at Hanbury church

The display was left in place, and as Hanbury Church is in an iconic hilltop position and frequently visited by walkers and trippers anyway, was seen by hundreds more.

I visited it again on giving thanks for my husband’s survival of a major operation, and found it beautiful, inspiring and spiritual. It was taken down at Epiphany.

In the end, I feel that this potential setback was converted to a triumph of opportunity, and touched many more people spiritually than would have been possible in the original service.

Something similar was done last year in lockdown, and it offered a festive boost when we were not allowed to sing in church.  Perhaps we will do it again, or it could be adapted for a different church festival.  Let’s hope it won’t be necessary though!

Sue Jenkins - Chair of the PCC at St Mary the Virgin, Hanbury

Page last updated: Tuesday 11th January 2022 10:09 AM

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