Namirembe Christmas carols excite Christians

By Mathias Mazinga

The choir threw the audience in even greater Christmas bliss as they performed hymns such as Jesus Christ the Apple Tree and Philip Ledger's Good Christian Men Rejoice

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Namirembe Cathedral Choir in action during their Christmas concert

Namirembe Cathedral choir’s traditional Christmas Concert, Carols by Candlelight, is generally acknowledged to be a crowd-puller event. But this year’s concert, which took place on Sunday, was even greater in magnitude.

By the start of the concert, at 6:00pm, the gigantic St Paul’s Cathedral was already full. The number of cars at the cathedral grounds was also overwhelming and the security guards had a lot of trouble to provide adequate parking.

In any case, the Church Missionary Society founded choir (as early as 1896) did not disappoint its fans, who actually came from different Christian denominations.

The all-male choir (comprising boys choristers/trebles and men) demonstrated its inherited choral tradition with utmost skill and experience.

Even before the carols started, the audience was already worked out by the glorious organ music played the Cathedral’s celebrated pipe-organist, Paul Luggya.

Organist Luggya in action

He demonstrated unrivalled skill as he played stunning pieces like Louis Vierne’s Allegro Vivace from Symphonie 1 Op. 14, J. S Bach’s Chorale Prelude ‘Puer natus in Bathlehem BWV 603 and Herbert Howells’ Rhapsody no. 1 in D Flat Op. 17.

The choir then threw the audience in even greater Christmas bliss as they performed poignant hymns like Jesus Christ the Apple Tree (by Elizabeth Poston) and Philip Ledger’s Good Christian Men Rejoice, which were interspersed with messianic readings from the Bible.

The choir further enticed the participation of their fans with common congregational Christmas hymns like Samuel Kimuli’s It Came Upon The Midnight Clear, Clement Mcwilliam’s While Shepherds Watched Their Flock and Philip Ledger’s Hark! The Herald Aangels Sing.


Prof Apolo Nsibambi and his wife take participation in a congregational hymn

The concert was graced by choral music lovers/philanthropists like former prime minister Prof Apollo Nsibambi, Architect William Ssentoogo and the Cathedral’s Dean, Canon Benon Kityo among others.

According to John Ssekibala, the choir’s conductor, Carols by Candlelight service of nine lessons and Carols, was first introduced as an additional special service in the cathedral in 1999 where the choir performs carols of varies styles, traditions and character.

The setting of the service is similar to the famous Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King’s College, Cambridge, on Christmas Eve.

At this carol service, Christians from various sectors of the public are invited to share in this wonderful ministry through reading of lessons taken from scriptures.