St Martin’s in the Bullring was the venue for the ‘Crisis’ Carol Service on Tuesday evening. Birmingham Festival Choral Society was pleased to support this worthwhile charity by leading the carol singing in the service.
Our recent connection with Crisis had started two years ago, when they were the chosen charity for our Christmas Carol Concert. We were moved by the stories we heard of the work of the charity, so we were pleased to take up their invitation to lead the singing at their 2017 and 2018 Carol Services.
Last year we heard how Crisis had been set up in 1967 with the aim of ending homelessness, and had no idea that they would still be so badly needed 50 years later. This year, the Chief Executive told us that they have prepared a plan documenting how homelessness could be ended in 10 years, if the politicians have the will to make it happen. The charity will keep lobbying to keep up the pressure.
The rector of St Martin’s, Revd Jeremy Allcock, spoke about how the Christian gospel should lead to an ‘open hand, open heart and open door’.
The stories told by clients were very moving, and reminded us that the loss of a home can be caused by all sorts of circumstances , and affect people of all ages. We heard how the charity helps people with substance abuse, and provides training to help people get into employment, and learn domestic skills.
We enjoyed singing the familiar Christmas carols, adding descants too. BFCS also sang ‘Away in a Manger’ to the Jacques tune, and a rousing ‘We wish you a merry Christmas’ at the end. Singing “we all want some figgy pudding” led very naturally to refreshments at the back of the church, and a chance for singers to chat to people involved in the charity and give to the collection. The evening had been thought-provoking, and reminded us how fortunate we are to have our own homes to return to.
Last night, BFCS singers led the singing at the Crisis UK 50th anniversary Carol Service in St Martin in the Bull Ring.
We heard stories of despair and hope from people who had been helped by the charity, and saw a video of their trip to London to record a new fund raising version of ‘Streets of London’ with Ralph McTell and Annie Lennox.
50 years ago, when ‘Streets of London’ was in the charts, ‘Crisis’ was set up to raise awareness of the problem of homelessness. The aim was to make it a thing of the past. They could not have foreseen that in 2017 the problem would be greater than ever.
We were pleased to support this much needed charity.
Christmas music filled the air at Ladywood ARC last Saturday. A recorder quartet greeted our guests with Christmas music as they arrived. The lights were dimmed, candles were lit, and the choir processed down the sides of the church to take their places and sing ‘Gaudete’. BFCS sang carols old and new, and invited the audience to sing the traditional carols with us. Kevin Gill conducted the choir and introduced the programme – the final concert in his term as caretaker Music Director.
We were moved by the short talk from ‘Crisis at Christmas’, particularly the testimony of a young student from Azerbaijan, who had been homeless until Crisis helped her get on her feet. She now has a job and can support herself. Singers and audience gave generously and raised £908 for the charity.
We were delighted that the Lord Mayor of Birmingham could attend our Carol Concert, accompanied by the Lady Mayoress. As Councillor Carl Rice, he represents the Ladywood Ward. Crisis at Christmas is a charity they both support. We would like to thank the Lord Mayor for taking the atmospheric candlelit picture of the choir, and posting it on Social Media.
The concert was followed by mince pies and mulled wine, and much conversation.
The small singing group ‘BFCS in Harmony’, led by Margaret Jones, entertained the Residents of Queen Mother Court, Selly Oak, with Carols on Monday 19th December, and our final Christmas event will be the leading of carol singing at ‘The Highfield’, Edgbaston, on Friday 23rd.
Conversation after the concert
The Lord Mayor speaks to representatives of ‘Crisis’.
the recorder quartet playing Christmas music as guests arrived.
The Choir by Candlelight. (Photo taken by the Lord Mayor)
Shelter’s Regional Events manager has written to thank BFCS singers for taking part in the first ‘Shelter’ Carol Service in Birmingham (see letter below).
Shelter is marking its 50 year anniversary, and the concert was shared with ‘The Choir with No Name’ which includes singers who are, or have been homeless. It was a privilege to share in such an event, and to hear about the important work of the charity. The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, tweeted the following pictures and appreciation after the concert. Click to see tweet in full:
Message to the choir from James Robinson, Regional Events Manager, Shelter.
I just wanted to say from myself and on behalf of everyone at Shelter thanks to you and to everyone at the Birmingham Festival Choral Society for being part of our first carol service in Birmingham.
I personally very much enjoyed your performance pieces and it was wonderful to have the BFCS voices supporting in the congregational carols. It was hairs on the back of the neck stuff for me!
Please do pass on my thanks to everyone who was involved and we hope you all have a very Merry Christmas.
The friendly Birmingham choir singing the world's best choral music.