A Christmas Festival of Carols and Nine Lessons

Dec. 22, 2016

“Mr. Longe will now light the Christmas Tree.” A long exclamation of wonder and surprise from the crowd greeted this gesture as the large tree sparkled with lights and decorations, and all the Christmas decoration lights went on in the church, transforming it into a place of awe and beauty. The Church of the Assumption, at Falomo, Lagos in Nigeria was holding its night of carols.

This year they had asked us SHCJ sisters, who are the parish sisters for the church, to join some fathers to make our own little choir and sing some carols. We had an interesting practice in the church choir loft with 5 of us from Keffi Street and two fathers, the assistant parish priest, Fr. Victor Okhiria, who organized the evening, and Fr. Alexander Oboh, the Cardinal’s secretary, together with the very talented organist and conductor. Our carols would be “O Babe Divine” and “Good King Wenceslaus” sung with us doing a “swing” to the beat in the music of the second carol!

Front row, L – R Srs. Juliana Okafor, Victoria Dikuk, and Mary Cecilia Okwuoseh, Second row, Srs. Genevieve Ibedu, Nadege Mongar, Ebele Onochie, and Ann Schulte, Back Row. Fr. Victor and Fr. Alex.

The Lessons were shortened and read by children and adults; Sr. Ann Schulte read the second lesson. Choirs from our nearby churches also took their part in singing carols, together with the official Falomo choir, and the home made choirs of the Catholic Men’s Organisation, CMO, and the Catholic Women’s Organisation, CWO. One of the choirs was a group from Holy Child College, with Sr. Genevieve Ibedu conducting, in her special Christmas hat! She later also sang with the SHCJ sisters. The church was packed and joined in with gusto for the general carols. Even the Archbishop of Lagos Dr. Alfred Martins, arrived for the first part of the service, together with some priest friends and former pastors in the parish. Everyone from the Archbishop down was wearing a “Santa hat” provided by the parish.

The small choir of two fathers and seven SHCJ sisters were to sing after the ninth lesson. What a stir in the Church as they went up, complete with their Santa hats! They actually sang very beautifully, and one could see people creeping up with phones and iPads to take photos of the group. “King Wenceslaus” laid great emphasis on “bring me wine”!, which was appreciated by the audience. Sr. Mary Cecilia Okwuoseh made a very good “page”.

After the last blessing, we were told to open our programmes and pull out a detachable section, this entitled us to some light refreshment, so if we wished for this we should go out of one of the 4 side doors, if we did not want this then out of the central door. The sisters went for the side doors for a well earned “bite” after the three and a half hours of a very beautiful “Festival of Carols and 9 Lessons” to prepare us for Christmas!

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