Twelve of the Clock

We were on terrible choral form tonight, singing the descants from the congregation. On the other hand, the chap beside us was clearly singing the tenor line from the congregation, so clearly the choristers of St Thomas’s accept that this is a thing erstwhile choristers do. We’re running with it.

The thing you have to understand is that there are some hymns, like Hark the Herald we can only sing harmony on. We’d have to think far harder about how the melody of verse three goes than if we belted the descant. Ditto the Sing choirs of angels bit in O Come, All Yea Faithful. That’s a bit different though, because years as a specifically British chorister conditioned us to sing Cantet nunc io, cantent agnelorum. We don’t know what it is about Canadian Anglicans that they eschew a good Latin carol when it’s handed to them like that. But ah, well. No one’s hit us on the nose for our congregational descants yet, so we’ll cut them some slack. Tis the season, and that.

We tell you all this because we’ve just squeaked back from midnight mass. It’s supposed to be the Snowstorm of the Century, and for our money the year we had the ice quakes was worse. Okay, so It’s -10 feeling colder out, but the snow has stopped and that first year we moved back it stuck stubbornly at -30 all December. In fact, we walked home from Mass in -30 that year. It wasn’t ideal.

But all that aside, we’re thawing to a late-night cup of Sugerplum Fairy. You’re thinking this is a herbal plum tea, aren’t you? So were we. But it’s pears. Yes, yes, we know. Sugarplum but flavoured with pear. Look, we just report the facts. We don’t try to explain the logic of the eponymous David. Quite honestly, he feels weirdly God-like when we write this blog, in an Old Testament sort of way. A bit whimsical, a bit judgmental, and prone to totally inexplicable decisions. Like naming a tea centred around pears after the Sugarplum Fairy. You think they’d at least pick the dance of the dancing pears from The Nutcracker for this, yes?

  There’s a hint of Christmas spices here, but it’s predominantly a sweet tea. We think it could be a really lovely green tea – the tannin would balance out the sweetness nicely.

Speaking of, that’s 24 days of no green tea. We did discover over breakfast, when we drank Santa’s Secret properly, that it was a green-black hybrid, but we’re not sure that counts. Talk about bizarre decisions.

But you know what they didn’t do this year? They didn’t do that awful coffee-tea hybrid thing we always end up ranting about. You didn’t notice, did you? We never once had to lecture David and Co on how coffee isn’t tea and never the twain shall meet. Is it possible someone reads this blog?

In case they do, we’d better end with something sensible. We know tonight’s tea has a Nutcracker theme, but Thomas Hardy is our tradition. Besides, no one writes a better Christmas Eve poem. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. So, enjoy The Oxen.

The Oxen
Thomas Hardy

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
“Come; see the oxen kneel,

“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

Doesn’t he do the loveliest and most unexpected things with wordplay? It’s in the books too, but gets obscured by the sheer agony of, say, Tess. You can pay more attention to linguistic playfulness in Hardy’s poetry because he’s not always battering your heart into fine pieces. Look at the rhymes, too. He’s got a rare gift for true rhyme, and some of them are not obvious.

But enough of that. No oxen kneeling here, but Dachshunds sleeping. That’s this chorister’s cue. Happy Christmas from the Dawlish Dachshunds, the Marscahllin- Cat and the resident Chorister at Home.

Go forth and make a joyful noise, with or without descants. And drink a cup of Christmas tea for us.

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