Thought for the Day by Luke Verrall (St Michael’s)
The Holly and the Ivy
Whilst not being the most interesting to sing (it is rather repetitive), the holly and the ivy does combine two of my passions – nature and singing in the choir!
The natural theme reminds us that despite the short, cold days of winter, nature is still alive all around us. Our hedgehogs, bats, newts and many plants may be hibernating, or entering a state of torpor, however of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly soldiers on with its ‘fierce’ prickles still bearing its ‘crown’ during winter. Every chorus has an athletic deer running through it too, which is very true for their skittish behaviour and is key to their survival to escape carnivorous predators. Sadly, in the UK our ancestors hunted big predators such as lynx, wolves and bears to extinction several hundreds if not thousands of years ago, meaning our deer population had seen somewhat of a boom with their only predator now being us.
Various pilot projects are springing up across the nation to ‘rewild’ parts of the country, which could include re-introducing keystone predators with the lynx looking most likely to be the first to return. One of the best examples of rewilding in England is that of the Knepp Estate in West Sussex where once farmed land has been left to return to wildlife, and although in its infancy, the results are staggeringly exciting! I’m currently reading the book ‘Wilding’ by Isabella Tree who owns Knepp with her husband Charlie Burrell and really recommend you add it to your Christmas wish list (it’s on offer at Waterstones right now: https://www.waterstones.com/book/wilding/isabella-tree/9781509805105)!
Then there’s the singing in the choir and I cannot wait to return to singing at Church this Sunday. Group singing really can change your mood and help you to shake off the stresses of the day. Whilst we will certainly not be having a ‘normal’ service of nine lessons and carols this year, we will still make the best of the situation and at St Michael’s we are learning new pieces to sing and, hopefully, bring a bit of very much needed Christmas cheer to one and all.
Finally, every chorus reminds us that no matter what, the sun continues to rise, and I think this year we have needed to hold on to that thought more than ever.
Here are a couple of links to two very different versions of the carol, please give them a listen, I guarantee they will make you smile;
The Huddersfield Choral Society perform John Gardners energetic version!