The service coincides with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the 'Carollers' who have been ushering in the season with yuletide favourites for close to half a century.

The candles went around the room, the electric lights were snuffed out and the flame passed on from friends to strangers and from young to old till the entire parish hall at All Saints Church basked under the soft glow of candles. When the pianist struck the keys, voices swelled to evergreen numbers that sound in homes and churches only at this time of the year.

Though the mass singing of carols was eclipsed by performances later in the evening, the 49 edition of ‘Carols by candlelight’ saw hundreds of Christians from various denominations – Catholic, CSI, TELC – recall traditional favourites like ‘While shepherds watched’ and ‘Silent Night’. The carol service was dedicated to the pioneers of the event as it coincided with the 70 anniversary of the founding of the Carollers, the group that introduced the service.

Pre-war choral singing

The Carollers started out as a band of young men who performed wartime favourites and classics in 1942 under the name ‘Strings that sing’. With the accent shifting to carols, the group was rechristened ‘Carollers’. For close to half a century, they have been ushering in the season with yuletide favourites, though the signature event is no more an open air concert.

Keeping with tradition, the lighting of the Christmas candles was followed by the ‘Carollers March’, a song composed by Cooling Rajaiah, that turned into an anthem of sorts for the Carollers.

An exclusive kid’s choir, PSALTS, saw girls in Scottish skirts striking a lively note. School choirs from Santa Maria and St.John’s Vestry School followed. Shepherds, angels, stars and Santa Claus in numbers presented by choirs from Joseph Eye Hospital and YWCA set the mood for the festival.

Church choirs from St. Joseph’s Church, Golden Rock, Emmanuel Church, All Saints Church and Holy Trinity Cathedral explored various possibilities in choral singing. A lilting rendition was delivered by a men’s quartet from All Saints Church Youth.

The concert ended with a flourish with St. Josephs College band packing in a grand march with a confluence of drums, saxophone, French horn and bugles.

Beginning with a soaring ‘Angels we have heard on high’, the cymbal clanged the closing notes for a merry ‘Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer’.