An English Christmas
“And inspired by the Spirit, he [Simeon] came into the temple…”
We strolled rather aimlessly on the grounds of the vast estate of Windsor Castle in England, this brisk Christmas afternoon. From the corner of my eye I spied an ornate stone building, one that could possibly be a library, and so we headed in that direction—Sallie, I and our traveling companions, Richard and Louise Perry. When we arrived, we discovered the building to be St. George’s Chapel. We learned to our great delight that within minutes the traditional service of scripture and carols would begin. What an awesome service it was to be!
“You will find a baby lying all wrapped up in a manger…”
We didn’t visit Windsor that afternoon in hopes of seeing the royal family. Nor could we have anticipated the blessing and perhaps even the honor of worshipping in the Chapel that only a few hours earlier had received the Queen of England with, her family and friends. Yet, looking back on that Christmas, we can ask, “were we led by the Spirit” or was it merely serendipitous to have been at Windsor Castle at that very hour? Did we actually see royalty that afternoon or was it just another human birth? We believe we had.
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God…”
The Choir at St. George’s Chapel, that afternoon, consisted of some three dozen adolescent voices. Our party of four sat, absolutely entranced. The beauty of young sopranos voicing hymns of praise, the poverty of our language, even today, compel us to merely hint at the inspiration of that hour of worship. So easily was it to identify with the shepherds on that hillside that long-ago winter’s evening as so beautifully rendered were the carols celebrating the birth of the Christ child. And to hear familiar Advent scripture read in the King James Version, accented only in an English voice, made the entire experience almost beyond description.
“Lord, mine eyes have seen thy salvation…”
Yes, we believe we were led by the Spirit of God, and yes, through the eyes of faith, we beheld the glory of the Prince of Peace. With warm melodies of that experience of a Christmas past, it is with warm hearts we thank God for another Christmas.