The midwinter was indeed bleak, but Farlington School’s Carol Service, held in Horsham’s beautifully atmospheric St Mary’s, radiated a warmth and joy which stirred and uplifted the packed congregation. As well as traditional bible readings, there was a mix of poetry, folk-tale and Christmas anecdote, all clearly and sympathetically delivered. A heart-tugging story of a sad Father Christmas was written by Year 10 pupil Ella Jones, and her own rendition brought a tear to many an eye.
The service was preceded by some lovely seasonal instrumental ensembles, including flute and harp, and the service itself, from the opening candlelit procession, showed the most impressive musicianship. Skatz and Aristoskatz choirs, groups and soloists sang with a professionalism which never lost sight of the meaning of the words, be it Massenet’s beautiful ‘Last Sleep of the Virgin’, ‘Stille Nacht’ with flute trio obbligato, or Rutter’s joyous ‘Angels’ Carol’. A real highlight of the evening was Sixth Former Olivia Bell giving a spell-binding performance of her own carol, accompanied by Farlingtonic choir and treble recorders. Then all the massed choirs, including the charming Gospel and Glee groups, together with brass and thunderous organ, gave a wonderfully theatrical son et lumière performance of ‘Gaudete’ – providing the finale to an evening of Christmas joy and rejoicing.