Singing Near Each Other, at last

Christmas carols in Meersbrook Park, 12th December 2020

Christmas during Covid

I was so grateful that we managed to sing near each other on this Saturday afternoon before Christmas. Following the rules for outdoor performance, each household stayed 2m apart. We looked over the wonderful vista of Sheffield to the north as the sun disappeared, and sang ten Christmas songs together.

The sound was not as rich as when we stand shoulder to shoulder, but it was unified and musical. We ended up with quite an audience – I could hardly believe how many people were there when I turned round. I think it was a mixture of people who had come knowing we were performing, and people who had stumbled across the event and just stayed. They certainly seemed very appreciative and it felt like we had shared something worthwhile.

We started off in unison, just to see how it felt, and gradually people started adding a little harmony here and there. By the end there was a real appetite to recapture the joy of singing in four parts, so we plunged into a rendition of our favourite Christmas song, Hail Smiling Morn. Miraculously, it came back to life in a way that astonished me. People moved to stand near others who sing the same part and, with no rehearsal for approximately 360 days, the song appeared. It is amazing, and moving, that songs we have learnt well, live in us in a physical way – your brain may not be sure it remembers, but when you start to sing, the words and music fall into your mouth. We’ve all heard and seen examples of people suffering from dementia, sometimes having lost the power of speech, recapturing songs they learnt long ago.

Here’s another picture featuring two of my grandchildren.

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