Very little stops time in its tracks. Takes one back to our roots of dark and light.
As the vast and magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral was cast into complete darkness, a hush descended over the crowd. The usual shuffles, sniffles, and coughs were awed into silence by the depth of dark and then the distant tones of Sankta Lucia could be heard. From behind us, she appeared and with her maids, they slowly made their way down the three aisles. All around us the glow of candles lit up their faces, the singing clearer, louder as they passed up to the front of the cathedral.
As photography was strictly forbidden (ignored by a few) this video from 2011 shows the entrance of Lucia at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
An overwhelming sense of purity and joy filled the building, the singing, still only lit with candles, wondrous and at times spine-tinglingly glorious. Too beautiful, tender, moving for words.
For once everyone was fully focussed, caught in the moment, no distractions. The wholeness was complete and utter.
As the bitter chill of outside penetrated the cathedral (it was minus three centigrade outside) people huddled closer to their loved ones.
This was the final song of the evening before Lucia and her maids walked back down the aisle…listen with some volume and wait until the moment the choir joins in. A shudder of emotion shook us all…many moved to tears. The pettiness of the world ceased to exist as the song carried us to new levels.
Lucia is celebrated on the 13th December in Sweden and I wrote about the festival here two years ago. For the first time this year, my family and I went to see the celebration at St. Paul’s Cathedral – a most unique and special occasion.
The Church of Sweden organises a series of Sankta Lucia services across London during December and the Ulrika Eleanora Church Choir takes part in them all. We were lucky enough to have internationally-renowned Swedish Soprano, Miah Ovenden, singing this year. Also, we enjoyed a Christmas Service with guest speakers including The Ambassador of Sweden who was joined in the congregation by numerous other Ambassadors, including those of Finland, which celebrated its 100 years of independence last week. I’d read about this on Khaya’s lovely blog and you can read ten things she loves about her second home here
I know we will be back next year to Lucia at St. Paul’s Cathedral…hopefully some of you might be able to join us.