Today we entertained ourselves with a visit to the Royal Albert Hall for the Carols by Candlelight concert.
I am a Jew by birth and an atheist by conviction, but as an admirer of classical music I am not afraid to admit that there are many masterpieces produced by the western civilization that I can listen to, even when they have clear Christian religious underpinnings. And when said masterpieces are performed with gusto and at a venue as grand as the Royal Albert Hall, it matters none what they themed after; I enjoy and applaud.
My kids enjoy singing more than they enjoy listening. And through their chamber choir participation – and various concerts and plays that British schools engage in at this time of year – they actually know many hymns and carols. (Kimmy recently asked with a touch of incomprehension, What is so important about this baby Jesus that people sing so many songs about him? I certainly lent her some perspective.)
The concert, it turned out, was somewhat participatory. About a dozen numbers were well-known carols (e.g., Good King Wenceslas or Once in Royal David’s City, which you can occasionally hear even on non-religious radiostations in the States) for which the audience was invited to sing along. In the section that we were sitting, the three of us must have been the only people who did not have the lyrics sheets; and I must have been the only person not joining in, as my girls knew enough words to sing along anyway (and someone have given Kimmy an extra sheet at some point). I must say that an opportunity to sing along has been a very positive aspect in Kimmy’s enjoyment of the proceedings. Becky is old enough to be able to appreciate fine art on its own merits, but she did not mind singing as well.
In any case, a performance at the Royal Albert is always a treat.
I know some of my Jewish friends could be appalled by such “forays” into Christianity. Believe me, as soon as I got back home, I fired up Adam Sandler’s Chanukah Song as an antidote. Thanks for the link, Dad!
Chanukah ended a couple of weeks ago, but you can still enjoy.