By Bernie Bell
Each year, St. Magnus Cathedral holds the Lucy Service – a celebration of light coming into darkness, at a dark time of year. It’s combined with lighting the Christmas tree , which, each year, is a gift from the people of Hordaland, in Norway to the people of Orkney. We try to go every year, as the Service is always an up-lifting, en-lightening experience, and the tree lighting makes us start to feel that Christmas is really coming. This year the Lucy Service was held on the 1st December, officially the first day of winter, and we went along, to take part.
We were all welcomed by ‘The Rev’ – the Reverend Fraser Macnaughton, with a message of light in dark days, followed by ‘Hymn to the Fallen ‘ by John Williams, to mark 100 years since the end of what was hoped to be the war to end all wars.
We sang ‘Silent Night’, and then Harvey Johnston, the OIC Convener, talked of how much children matter, and should matter. His theme was “Tak’ time, mak’ time to be with the bairns” – wise counsel, as more and more folk retreat into their machines, grown–ups and children alike. I’m going to write that in capital letters……..
“TAK’ TIME, MAK’ TIME, TO BE WITH THE BAIRNS .”
The Lucy Service, is early enough in the evening to be a family event, and it’s always good to see many children there, from tiny ones, through to young teens, entranced by what is happening. I did wish that the mother of the boy sitting behind us, who was kicking the back of Mike’s seat, would put manners on him! That is part of taking time to be with children – putting manners on them. Teaching them to how to behave, and to have thought for other people.
Glaitness School Choir then sang ‘Infant Holy, Infant Lowly’, followed by a Norwegian Medley performed by Norwegian guest musicians and pupils from Kirkwall Grammar school – the focus was very much on ‘the bairns ‘ – though I’m not sure if Grammar school pupils would like to be referred to as ‘bairns’! Harvey Johnston had said that bairns can be any age, and that reminded me of what my Mum said – even if you were 80 and your child was 60, they are still your child.
Part of the Norwegian Medley was sung by Marit Karlberg, a young woman with a particularly sweet voice, accompanied equally sweetly by some of the ‘bairns’, singing in an unfamiliar tongue, and doing so, admirably!
Beate Husa, Hordaland County Council Head of Cultural Affairs, then gave her Christmas message to the people of Orkney. Norway and Orkney have had a long association, as Harvey mentioned, at first not too friendly! But then, settling down and settling in, and there is still a Norway/Orkney Friendship Society, today. Many Orcadians could say, to many Norwegians – “We are of one blood, thee and I”
Glaitness School Choir sang ‘Santa Lucia’, followed by Santa Lucia, herself, Leona Delday, and attendants, giving a reading about lighting one thousand Christmas lights – which, for me, is always the highlight of the evening. A child – or maybe I should say a young person – standing and speaking of light, and giving light to the world, is touching, and hope-full. Leona spoke well, and looked lovely, with her crown of light.
We sang ‘Oh Come All Ye Faithful’, and left the cathedral to ‘Rudolf The Red-nosed Reindeer’– and why not? A song for the bairns.
And as we exited, I noticed light in darkness, in St. Magnus Cathedral……………
And so on to the Kirk Green for a speech by Harvey Johnston, encouraging Beata Husa to switch the tree lights on – the lights were a bit reluctant, but then….on they came , and everyone went “OOOOO”!
While the Kirkwall City Pipe Band played rousing tunes, beat their drums and generally made everything feel…festive!
The service starts too early for us to have tea before going, so, part of our tradition, is to go for a meal afterwards – it’s the beginning of the Christmassy things, for us. We went along to The Storehouse, which is on Bridge Street Wynd.
It hasn’t been open long, we hadn’t been there before, and were very pleased with our choice. The place itself, is very pleasing – really spacious and airy, with big windows. Some restaurants cram the tables together to get as many in as possibly. Judith Glue didn’t make that mistake, and so, the dining space ………….works, and the food is good too! The feeling of the beginning of Christmas was encouraged by our meeting two people we know there, each with a group having their Christmas ‘dinner’ – and one group even did a ‘Secret Santa’ after their meal. The whole atmosphere was cheery, jolly, friendly, really good.
And so, we wended our way back down the street, looking at some of the Christmas displays in the windows,
And then a last look at the centre of Kirkwall, all lit up.