Whilst my birthday was nearly a month ago, today I took delivery of my present from Hannah: an hour playing the organ at York minster. Robert Sharpe, the director of music, was very gracious to arrange this for us, and I’m very grateful to him. It’s a long time since I’ve played an instrument of this size, and it was a joy to have access to such a wide palette of colours, particularly for English music.
Happy Christmas! Thankfully it’s still Christmas Day in the time zones west of Norway, so I can truthfully post this at just gone midnight!
We are really enjoying have Ruth with us from the US, although we’re sad it’s not been possible for Jordan to come too.
After an extended period of thawing temperatures and rain, we had to warn Ruth that despite visiting the Arctic, she probably wouldn’t get a white Christmas. However, earlier forecasts turned out to be wrong, and she has experience snow and the aurora.
Yesterday (Christmas Eve) was one of our busiest days, with 9 services across the parish. Sarah and I each played for 3. These are pictures from 2pm and 4pm in Finnsnes church. I haven’t heard the official figures, but I reckon about 950 people came to these two services. It was great to have our children and youth choirs participating in one service, and one of the local adult choirs and a soloist at the other. Ruth sat through both, but admitted afterwards that she was a bit disappointed when she realised everything was in Norwegian, so she didn’t understand much! However, she has become good friends with Dilani (from Sri Lanka) who was the sound engineer for the service, so at least she had English speaking company:
Christmas Day was in some ways easier, with just one service each, although the final postlude which a choir decided to do in 5/4 time took a little bit of negotiating. We then ate English Christmas dinner with Dilani and her parents. Ruth cooked the majority, with her stuffing being a particular hit (yum), Sarah made Christmas pudding (a special suet free version, as you can’t buy it in Norway) and Christmas cake, and Dilani’s family came with delicious spring rolls and a cheese cake.
After recovering from the obligatory food coma and washing up, we returned home after a good display of aurora, and Ruth trying out skiing (in the church car park!). Finally time to open gifts, at about 8pm:
On Saturday 10th December we have our parish Christmas Concert.
Participants include the children and youth choirs, the church band, Ernst Norbakken (tenor) and Dilani Johnson. Our rector, Ruth Astrid Stellmacher is leading the evening:
Here is a taster video, taken a couple of weeks ago at band practice:
Click here to see the video if you receive this post by email.
The program will include popular Norwegian Christmas carols, classical vocal solos, new and traditional choir pieces and a bit of a surprise.