Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

. . . and then it snowed!

Hi there! If you live in all the snowy bits of the UK (and let's face it that's most of you) you won't understand why I was so excited to see the snow last night. But we really hadn't had much up until late yesterday afternoon . . . it's all changed now!

We awoke this morning cocooned in a fluffy blanket of powdery snow. It lay thickly along each branch and thin twig; and covered the ground 'deep and even'.

The roads into the village hadn't been gritted, so they were white with compacted snow – but not so bad, we drove into the local town and bought a few essential things and filled the car with fuel.

When we got home, we were amazed find a voicemail message telling us the Village Carol Service planned for this afternoon had been cancelled – what?! why?! People were happy to drive to Sainsbury's but weather conditions are supposedly too bad for the Carol Service . . . mmmm?! Confused?

Before we had lunch we decided to set off on foot to deliver the last few Christmas cards and guess what? on our return another message had been left for us . . . "Carol Service cancelled but there will be a gathering in the church to sing Christmas carols" . . . spot the difference? It's subtle!

At 3.30pm we 'villagers' gathered – I got my arm twisted to play tunes on the organ as best I could, sight-reading without any rehearsal time whatsoever! and after a short pause for quiet thoughts about fifty people heartily sang six well known carols at a ripping pace and with lots of laughter. After which someone read this lovely poem:

Eddi's Service
It's the year AD 687 . . .

Eddi, priest of St. Wilfrid
In his chapel at Manhood End,
Ordered a midnight service
For such as cared to attend.

But the Saxons were keeping Christmas,
And the night was stormy as well.
Nobody came to service,
Though Eddi rang the bell.

"'Wicked weather for walking,"
Said Eddi of Manhood End.
"But I must go on with the service
For such as care to attend."

The altar-lamps were lighted, –
An old marsh-donkey came,
Bold as a guest invited,
And stared at the guttering flame.

The storm beat on at the windows,
The water splashed on the floor,
And a wet, yoke-weary bullock
Pushed in through the open door.

"How do I know what is greatest,
How do I know what is least?
That is My Father's business,"
Said Eddi, Wilfrid's priest.

"But – three are gathered together –
Listen to me and attend.
I bring good news, my brethren!"
Said Eddi of Manhood End.

And he told the Ox of a Manger
And a Stall in Bethlehem,
And he spoke to the Ass of a Rider,
That rode to Jerusalem.

They steamed and dripped in the chancel,
They listened and never stirred,
While, just as though they were Bishops,
Eddi preached them The Word,

Till the gale blew off on the marshes
And the windows showed the day,
And the Ox and the Ass together
Wheeled and clattered away.

And when the Saxons mocked him,
Said Eddi of Manhood End,
"I dare not shut His chapel
On such as care to attend."

by Rudyard Kipling

So that proves that we didn't need the rector, the curate or the missioner; or the organist and choir from the nearby town; or the readers and service sheets and all the other organised stuff. We'd taken a lot of trouble decorating the church for today and so we all turned up in our thick coats and hats and scarves and boots; we felt just a bit rebellious because we'd been told not to do something and we went ahead and just did it anyway! We sang, laughed a lot (mostly at my inept playing of the organ – as the late Eric Morecambe once said, I played all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order), we drank sherry and wished each other Merry Christmas, then walked home through the snow.

Isn't that just how it's meant to be (but so often isn't)?

I hope to finish my Advent Calendar count-up to Christmas this week, but we have some travelling to do and you never know what the weather may throw at us!

I'll be back soon
C x


  1. Lovely snowy photos. Hardly any snow here in East Suffolk though - can't say I'm sorry!

  2. sounds fantastic, impromptu dos are always the best! Cx

  3. Oh bravo, Celia! Take a bow with the rest of your caroling colleagues. xo

  4. I do admire you all. There must quite a few pairs of burning ears smouldering in your neighbourhood ;>)

  5. Brilliant, your post made me smile.

  6. Joyous post-have the very best of Christmases, Celia.

  7. Fabulous, Celia. We've been enchanted by the novelty of the snow too - looks like we got about the same amount. I need to venture out and popst cards round the village but it was just too cold today to contemplate it!

  8. That is just how it is meant to be!

  9. Snow is always wonderful, even when it's a hindrance to travel... keep the childlike images going, too much seriousness in the world. Loads of snow now in Somerset too

  10. Just a thimbleful...

    Lovely story and delightful poem! We had our Carol Service last night and I read The Messenger. For the last 40 years we have had a party after the service in our house - it is a lovely way to end the evening. By the way, did you get the copy of George's Diabolical Quiz which I emailed you?

  11. Well, isn't the unplanned often better than the planned? Have yourself a merry Christmas and may the new year be all you wish.

  12. It was rather exciting to finally see the snow. Feeling less than enamoured now though....

    Your carolling story is wonderful, very life affirming, I am very glad you shared it with us.

  13. Your impromptu carol service sounds wonderful. It was exciting to see some snow here at last.

  14. Eddie's Service is my all time favourite Christmas poem Celia. When I used to organise the carol services (previous parish) it was always included.

    We held ours last night in the village - great night. While Shepherds to the tune of Ilkley Moor!

  15. Beautiful photos and a great poem! However, I like your summary best! I always like to think that "rules were made to be broken" and that "rules are for other people" - looks like you had some great times without the rules! Have a wonderful week!

  16. what a fun service! at least you manage to find the right notes, i generally hit just enough right to throw everybody else off when i attempt to sing. ;)

  17. It does look pretty and you seem well prepared so i hope you have a Happy and Warm Christmas.

  18. We too managed our 9 Lessons without the vicar (who lives miles away on country roads), the choir processed up the chancel in their wellies and the mulled wine which I'd made for the usual 80 only had to go round 45 of us - RESULT!


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