12th Day of Christmas

The Christmas decorations are meant to come down on Twelfth Night, which is on the evening of the 5th January. But when was the Twelfth DAY of Christmas?

From doing numerous searches in Google and on Wikipedia, there seems to be disagreement about when the 12 days of Christmas start and end.

My understanding was always that Christmas Day was the first day of the Christmas season in the church calendar and, by counting forward, the 12th day of Christmas would fall on 5th January. The twelfth night would be on the evening following the 12th day – on 5th January.

However, some other sources suggest that the First Day of Christmas isn’t Christmas Day itself – they say the First Day is on Boxing Day (or St Stephen’s Day) on 26th December – and thus the 12th Day of Christmas is actually the 6th January (the feast of the Epiphany). However those sources (including the Oxford English Dictionary) place the Twelfth Night as the evening before the Twelfth Day – on the 5th January.

But how can you have the seasons of Christmas and Epiphany overlapping like that? Surely that can’t happen. The seasons of Lent and Easter don’t overlap. The seasons of Advent and Christmas don’t overlap. So how can the 6th January be the last day of Christmas and the first day of Epiphany?

Christmas carols coming out of my ears!

Had a very successful and enjoyable Christmas carol concert at Christ Church Cathedral last night with the cathedral choir. The concert sold-out several weeks back, and I’m reliably informed by someone “in the know” that we could have sold the concert three times over! Those who did get a ticket were treated to a very nicely balanced programme of carols, topped off by a rousing rendition of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.

I’m also back in Christ Church on Saturday night with the Mornington Singers for another carol concert called Noël. That’s also selling well, although there are a few tickets left. The Morningtons were also out singing carols last night in Phibsborough, by all accounts to a delighted crowd.

Then on Sunday the cathedral has it’s service of Five Lessons and Carols, a slightly shorter version of the fully carol service. The full diocesan Nine Lessons and Carols is on Monday, but that’s a ticket-only affair, and I suspect they’re all gone!

And so, as you can imagine, I’ve got Christmas carols coming out of my ears at the moment. But do you know what, I don’t care, because they’re great fun to sing – and really help me get into the festive holiday spirit.

Singing in Dublin

As we near the end of October, so begins the rush of musical activity towards Christmas.  This year is by no means the most busy I’ve been, but I wanted to quantify (even if just for myself) all the upcoming performances over the next two months:

  • Thursday 1st November Mass for All Saints Day at Christ Church Cathedral
  • Friday 2nd November Fauré Requiem Concert with the Mornington Singers in Corpus Christi Church Drumcondra
  • Saturday 24th NovemberPillars of Heaven – the main winter concert for the Mornington Singers in Christ Church Cathedral
  • Sunday 2nd DecemberAdvent Procession – a beautiful candle-lit service of Advent carols in Christ Church Cathedral
  • Thursday 13th DecemberCathedral Choir Christmas Concert – always a very popular event in Christ Church Cathedral
  • Saturday 15th DecemberNoël! Christmas Concert – a selection of beautiful and well-loved Christmas Carols in Christ Church Cathedral
  • Sunday 16th December Five Lessons and Carols – a shorter version of the traditional carol service
  • Monday 17th DecemberNine Lessons and Carols – the official diocesan carol service – very popular and so free tickets required to get in
  • Monday 24th DecemberMidnight Mass
  • Tuesday 25th DecemberChristmas Day Eucharist

This list doesn’t even include the ‘normal’ services and rehearsals I have in between, so I’m sure I’ll be looking forward to a rest in the New Year!

On the eleventh day of Christmas

It’s not even the end of the Christmas season, and already people are sick of it. They will gladly put up with a 3-month build up to Christmas Day, but before the turkey’s even cold on the plate they want to rip down the decorations and forget about the whole thing.

I can’t help but think that, if we didn’t start Christmas in september, then we might all be able to enjoy the full 12 days of Christmas, instead of just the first.

Christmas Music

5.00pm, Sunday, 30th November
Advent Procession

Byrd Vigilate
Boles Adam lay y bounden
Piccolo Jesus Christ the apple tree
Goldschmidt A tender shoot
Parsons Ave Maria
Esquivel Veni Domine
Magnificat Noble in B minor
Weelkes Hosanna to the Son of David
Arr. Llewellyn Fum fum fum
Voluntary: Reger ‘Improvisation’; from Sonata No. 2 in D Minor
8.00pm, Wednesday, 10th December
Carols at Christ Church – Concert

4.00pm, Wednesday, 17th December
Live Broadcast of Choral Evensong on BBC Radio 3

Introit: Boles Adam Lay Ybounden
Walsh, Preces and Responses
Canticles: Howells Gloucester Service
Psalms 42, 43
Anthem: Maw Evening Hymn
Final anthem: Alan Smith There is No Rose
Voluntary: Durufle
3.30pm, Sunday, 21st December
Service of Lessons and Carols

arr. Parshall Enniscorthy Carol [IN IRISH]
Arr. Chilcott Gaudete
Bax (arr. Dawkes) There is no Rose
Tavener The Lamb
Palestrina O magnum mysterium
Arr. Chilcott Sussex carol
Walker Adam lay y bounden
Nelson Out of your sleep
Voluntary: Briggs Sortie on ‘In Dulci Jubilo’
8.00pm, Monday, 22nd December
Service of Nine Lessons and Carols

Walker Adam lay y bounden
arr. Parshall Enniscorthy Carol [IN IRISH]
Bax (arr. Dawkes) There is no Rose
S. Jackson Noel nouvelet
Nelson Out of your sleep
Tavener The Lamb
Arr. Chilcott Lully lulla
Warlock Bethlehem Down (arr.Hill)
Arr. Chilcott Gaudete
Arr. Chilcott Sussex carol
Handel And the glory
Arr. Hill Rocking
Tavener Christmas Proclamation
Voluntary: Briggs Sortie on ‘In Dulci Jubilo’