Poetically Speaking: Cathedral Carol Service by Wendy Cope


For me one of the loveliest parts of Christmas is the Carol Service.  I always look forward to the traditional candle lit one in our church in Richmond.  This unremarkable 1960’s building is transformed under the glow of candle light; a Christmas tree dressed generously in gold and red flickers; and familiar words and music resound reminding me anew of the wonder and true meaning of Christmas time.

Although I have rarely attended a carol service in a cathedral I love the brevity and meaning conveyed in this poem by Wendy Cope.


Those of us who are not important enough
To have places reserved for us
And who turned up too late to get a seat at all,
Stand in the nave aisles, or perch on stone ledges.

We shiver in the draught from the west door.
We cannot see the choir, the altar or the candles.
We can barely see the words on our service sheets.

But we can hear the music. And we can sing
For the baby whose parents were not important enough
To have a place reserved for them,
And who turned up too late to get a room at all.

Will you be attending a carol service this year?  Even if you have no interest in anything remotely ‘religious’ do consider it. There is nothing like the story of the baby born in a manger who came to save the world, the elegance of traditional carols, and the opportunity to stop and breath and contemplate during a season swamped with busyness, shopping and sometimes loneliness and sadness.  If you happen to be in South West London do come along to one at Duke Street Church, you would be very welcome,  if not consider seeking one out near to you. Who knows it may just transform your Christmas…..

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