- Our Advent and Christmas programme proceeds apace. All are most welcome to our annual Christingle Service to be held in the Abbey at 5.00 pm today. The collection will go to the work of the Children’s Society.
Please also make a note of Sherborne Christmas, the Christmas Concert which is the Abbey’s gift to the town, to be held tomorrow on Monday 10 December. Started nine years ago and hugely popular, the concert brings together the Abbey Choir, Sherborne Town Band, the Sherborne Young Singers and musicians from the Gryphon School. It begins at 7.30 pm. This year we also have a “star guest”, Bonny Sartin, formerly of the Yetties. Admission is free, and no tickets are required. There will be a retiring collection to be divided between St Margaret’s Hospice, Yeovil, and the Weldmar Hospice in Dorchester. Do bring family, friends and neighbours.
- Something like 400 people attended the three Shoppers’ Carol Services in the Abbey last Sunday, and we received many appreciative comments. On Saturday 22 December we will be holding four more – at 12 noon, 1.00, 2.00 and 3.00 pm. It is always a great pleasure to welcome friends from the local branch of the Gideons to these services. They give away a good number of New Testaments, which I like to think of as seeds being sown.
- The Abbey’s own Carol Service is only a fortnight away, on Sunday 23 December at 3.00 pm. Seats in the nave fill up very early, so please arrive in good time – not forgetting that you will need to allow time to park. It will not be possible to bring cars into the Close from Half Moon Street.
By long tradition the collection at the Abbey Carol Service is given to the Abbey Choir Fund, which enables the Choir to buy new music and robes. The Fund, which is also supported by the Sherborne Abbey Festival, provides a growing number of bursaries which help provide some of the boys with lessons in the musical instrument of their choice. Our aim is not just to recruit choristers to sing, but to give them a musical education which will be part of their lives long after their voices have broken.
The Choir is currently singing to a very high standard, and I commend the Carol Service collection to your generosity, as a way of showing your appreciation of all that the Choir does to enrich our worship throughout the year. Gifts can also be left at the Parish Office, of course – and can be enhanced in value by being Gift Aided. Thank you very much indeed.
- Half Moon Street and cars were very much on my mind last week when signs appeared alerting us to the intention of Wessex Water to dig up part of the street and our end of Digby Road from 12 December for ten days. The purpose is to connect a water supply to the new buildings being erected behind Tamburino’s restaurant.
The prospect of Half Moon Street and Digby Road being reduced to single lane access controlled by traffic lights at the busiest time of the year dismayed both me and all the local traders. I spent much of my “day off” last week bringing this to the attention of our County, District and Town Councillors. Mercifully, common sense has prevailed and the project has been postponed until 2 January. Particular thanks are due to our County Councillor, Jon Andrews, and Chairman of West Dorset District Council, Peter Shorland, for their intervention.
- The Christmas Day Lunch in the Digby Memorial Church Hall will be held again this year under the auspices of Sherborne Churches Together (SCT). The Lunch has been extremely popular in recent years, with many people accepting the invitation to be guests and others to be volunteer helpers.
Registration forms are now available in the Parish Office on which both guests and helpers can indicate their particular requirements and also find contact details for the organisers. This means that the Parish Office, as last year, is simply the source of forms and the receiver of completed forms. The latter will go straight to the organisers. Potential guests and volunteers are warmly invited to collect a form soon.
6. Despite the many carol services, we will not be forgetting our monthly observance Remembering the Fallen on Friday 21 December, at 11.00 am in the Abbey. This short ceremony includes the reading of a page of names from each of the Abbey’s four Books of Remembrance: The Dorsetshire Regiment’s Books from the First and Second World Wars, The Rifles’ current Book and the Town’s own Book of its war dead. The Last Post and Reveille are sounded and we observe the Two Minutes’ Silence. If you remember – do come.