Well. It was a bit like the Pantomime without the beer, but with a bishop and carols. I hope that doesn't sound too trite - because it was far from that. The Church was packed with young people from across Shropshire and many of us locals too in support of our local group.
A young woman from Brown Clee YFC opened the service, singing the first verse of "Once in Royal David's City', unaccompanied, from the back of the Church - her bright clear voice soaring confidently into the rafters. This solo piece, in a hushed and expectant church, always and without fail will send a shiver of something or other down my spine.
Then enter Lynn on the mighty organ and the congregation joins in with gusto for the rest of the carol. An opening prayer by the Bishop and we're off - a medley of poetry, music, sketches and song interspersed with the odd carol to make sure we all get to our feet occasionaly. No chance we'll fall asleep though - these young people tell the familiar Christmas story in their own way, injecting wit and humour and unexpected talents. Each group in the County has contributed a piece. There may be the odd gaff and pratt-fall along the way - but hey! they're amongst friends - it doesn't matter. We laugh, we sigh, we strain to hear some of the softer or more garbled voices. No matter, it is good.
The three kings finally arrive bearing gifts, heads swathed in their girlfriends' pashminas and wearing - was it curtains or dressing gowns? 3 strong solo voices sing the words of Melchior, Caspar and of Balthazar, whose doom-laden words are portentious:
'Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfumeClun Valley YFC brought 'I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas' into the traditional mix - and were this the Pantomime Competition I have no doubt they would have won the cup. Four confidant voices accompanied by Wayne on that most curious of instruments, the piano accordian.
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.'
But of course, it was not about being 'better' and winning anything tonight. It was about being there amongst friends, being part of a community, celebrating and taking part. It was all of that. With a Bishop and Carols. And mulled wine.
Well done them.
Me? I'm all carolled up.