On 5th January I was invited to attend the Christmas and New Year Celebration event of St Gregorios Parish of the Syrian Orthodox Church.
This was a programme of carol singing, but with a twist! Instead of a regular carol service the event is organised as a carol singing competition with choirs from different parts of Dublin competing against one another. The competition was judged by two neutral third parties who, like me, were guests: Rev Fr George Philip from the Mar Thoma Church and Fr Joshy Abraham who is the Patriarchal representative and was visiting from Damascus.The evening was entertaining from start to finish for all concerned: a real festive atmosphere for the whole church family from youngest to oldest with about 200 people packed into Kilnamanagh Community Centre cheering and clapping for their area’s choir.
In between each performance there was a short talk from one of the priests (Rev Fr Jino Joseph and Rev Fr Jobymon Scaria) or one of the guests (myself and our two judges). I was able to bring greetings from the Irish churches and spoke about Simeon’s openness to the Holy Spirit which enabled him to recognise the Messiah as the baby of an ordinary, poor family. We too need to be open to the Holy Spirit to see God at work in ordinary people in everyday encounters, especially those with people from different traditions to our own and that is a key part of what we try to foster through IICC.
All told each of the six choirs performed a half hour set, and each had its own set for the stage, often with children acting out a nativity with a choir behind singing carols in the Malankara language.
“It was clear that a huge amount of work had gone into each performance and the participants really gave it their all.”
After all the choirs had finished the judges conferred and their marks, which covered various categories of singing quality, costumes and uniforms, and the staging, were totted up. There followed a prize giving ceremony complete with cups for the best choir and best overall performance. The children’s celebrations were a joy to behold.