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Folk Carols and Foaming Ale

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I had a busy day today – at church this morning to help with craft activities at a cafĂ©-style event and then back this afternoon to join in a surprise birthday event (and perform music with some friends). So, what better way to relax this evening than to go to church again…

This time though, it was a different church – All Saints with Holy Trinity, the ‘parish church’ of Loughborough rather than All Saints Thorpe Acre with Dishley (AKA Thorpe Acre church or ASTAD) where I work and worship. They were trying a new event called ‘folk carols and foaming ale’. There was beer and food on sale, congregational carol singing supported by a folk trio and folk carols performed by Grand Union Folk Club (with joining in allowed). However, there was a lovely medieval informality to the whole thing – bouts of music with time to mill around and chat and fuzzy boundaries between the two. I’d go again if they run it next year (and it appeared to be successful enough that that is quite likely).

The highlight for me was when I went to the front of the church and found a quiet spot to sit down and sketch the view down the nave only to find, halfway through, the folk club group assembling in front of me. Because of the informality, they didn’t have a problem with me staying there and I’d reached the ‘colouring in’ stage so I remained in place, finished the drawing and enjoyed a full surround-sound experience.

Later on, they also closed their final set with a brilliant song that I wasn’t familiar with – The Good Old Way. It isn’t, on the face of it, particularly seasonal. However, if God was man in Palestine and lives today in bread and wine (to borrow from Betjeman’s sublime poem, Christmas) then being numbered among “Immanuel’s friends” and all the trials and joys that go with that are at the very heart of what Christmas is about for the Christian and they couldn’t have chosen a better piece on which to land.