Carols By Candlelight

Anne here, wishing everyone the fruits of the festive season. In my case I'm being literal, having just picked a pile of peaches from a tree in the garden of a friend of mine. She texted to say she and her family were away on holidays and the peach tree was laden and to please help myself. Images

The tree surely was laden — when I got there the ground was scattered with fallen peaches, I picked a pile, and there's still heaps on the tree. So for the next day or so I'll be making peach jam, and possibly some chutney and maybe even brandied peaches if I can find a good recipe. And in between I'm eating fresh peaches. There's nothing like eating peaches sun-warmed and juicy, straight off the tree.

But that's not what I planned to blog about today. We're still in our Wenchly Christmastide period, so I thought I'd talk about the Australian Christmas tradition of Carols By Candlelight. It's a kind of mass evening picnic, where people gather, with food and kids and candles, and sing carols. Christmas being in summer here, the weather is usually warm and balmy, so being outside at night is generally a treat, not a chilly ordeal. (The photo below was taken last week by my friend Carol.)


Carol'scarols (1)

According to Wikipedia,  Carols By Candlelight started in Melbourne, my home town. How it began is a lovely story, I think. A popular Melbourne radio announcer, Norman Banks, was walking home from his night-time radio shift on Christmas Eve when he passed a window and saw an elderly woman inside, sitting up in bed, her face lit by candlelight as she sang along to Away in a Manger being played on the radio.

Wondering how many others spent Christmas alone, he had the idea to gather a large group of people to sing Christmas carols together by candlelight. The idea took off, and this year's  Carols By Candlelight celebrated its 80th anniversary, and has spread all over Australia and to other parts of the world. (Paraphrased from Wikipedia.Littleangels

These days big versions are held in every state capital city, where local and international stars of stage and screen perform, and the audience sings along, but there also smaller and more intimate suburban and country gatherings. Tickets are sold and the money raised goes to charity. 

It's not a religious gathering, more a cultural thing, and the sight of families gathered on picnic rugs with hundreds of candles twinkling peacefully in the warm, dark night is a lovely sight.

Shaun&robbieThe two solemn little angels above are my nephews, taken many years ago at Carols By Candlelight in a country town. They were singing away, completely unaware they were being photographed. The second photo shows them after they'd noticed. Quite a change.

So what about you — do you go carol singing at all? Do you enjoy carols, or are they not for you? And which one is your favorite? (I always choke up in The Little Drummer Boy.)

 

60 thoughts on “Carols By Candlelight”

  1. There was a time I did go caroling. But, that was when I was young and was a soprano. I am now older and have become not quite a bass – maybe a tenor.
    If I sang now, the birds would fall dead out of the trees.

    Reply
  2. There was a time I did go caroling. But, that was when I was young and was a soprano. I am now older and have become not quite a bass – maybe a tenor.
    If I sang now, the birds would fall dead out of the trees.

    Reply
  3. There was a time I did go caroling. But, that was when I was young and was a soprano. I am now older and have become not quite a bass – maybe a tenor.
    If I sang now, the birds would fall dead out of the trees.

    Reply
  4. There was a time I did go caroling. But, that was when I was young and was a soprano. I am now older and have become not quite a bass – maybe a tenor.
    If I sang now, the birds would fall dead out of the trees.

    Reply
  5. There was a time I did go caroling. But, that was when I was young and was a soprano. I am now older and have become not quite a bass – maybe a tenor.
    If I sang now, the birds would fall dead out of the trees.

    Reply
  6. Pooh, Annette, I’m sure the birds would join in and sing with you. I used to be a soprano, too, but several years of belting out harmonies in a band, in smoke-filled pubs and out of doors with an inadequate sound system, roughened my voice and now I’m practically a bass, as well. Doesn’t stop me enjoying a good singalong. And it shouldn’t stop you. Singing is singing and IMO it’s a basic human joy.

    Reply
  7. Pooh, Annette, I’m sure the birds would join in and sing with you. I used to be a soprano, too, but several years of belting out harmonies in a band, in smoke-filled pubs and out of doors with an inadequate sound system, roughened my voice and now I’m practically a bass, as well. Doesn’t stop me enjoying a good singalong. And it shouldn’t stop you. Singing is singing and IMO it’s a basic human joy.

    Reply
  8. Pooh, Annette, I’m sure the birds would join in and sing with you. I used to be a soprano, too, but several years of belting out harmonies in a band, in smoke-filled pubs and out of doors with an inadequate sound system, roughened my voice and now I’m practically a bass, as well. Doesn’t stop me enjoying a good singalong. And it shouldn’t stop you. Singing is singing and IMO it’s a basic human joy.

    Reply
  9. Pooh, Annette, I’m sure the birds would join in and sing with you. I used to be a soprano, too, but several years of belting out harmonies in a band, in smoke-filled pubs and out of doors with an inadequate sound system, roughened my voice and now I’m practically a bass, as well. Doesn’t stop me enjoying a good singalong. And it shouldn’t stop you. Singing is singing and IMO it’s a basic human joy.

    Reply
  10. Pooh, Annette, I’m sure the birds would join in and sing with you. I used to be a soprano, too, but several years of belting out harmonies in a band, in smoke-filled pubs and out of doors with an inadequate sound system, roughened my voice and now I’m practically a bass, as well. Doesn’t stop me enjoying a good singalong. And it shouldn’t stop you. Singing is singing and IMO it’s a basic human joy.

    Reply
  11. What a wonderful custom, Anne! (As are the luscious fresh peaches.) My sister and I like to sing carols lustily and badly when we get together around the holidays. I love the Christmas carols–they were a big part of my childhood.
    Hark! The herald angels sing…

    Reply
  12. What a wonderful custom, Anne! (As are the luscious fresh peaches.) My sister and I like to sing carols lustily and badly when we get together around the holidays. I love the Christmas carols–they were a big part of my childhood.
    Hark! The herald angels sing…

    Reply
  13. What a wonderful custom, Anne! (As are the luscious fresh peaches.) My sister and I like to sing carols lustily and badly when we get together around the holidays. I love the Christmas carols–they were a big part of my childhood.
    Hark! The herald angels sing…

    Reply
  14. What a wonderful custom, Anne! (As are the luscious fresh peaches.) My sister and I like to sing carols lustily and badly when we get together around the holidays. I love the Christmas carols–they were a big part of my childhood.
    Hark! The herald angels sing…

    Reply
  15. What a wonderful custom, Anne! (As are the luscious fresh peaches.) My sister and I like to sing carols lustily and badly when we get together around the holidays. I love the Christmas carols–they were a big part of my childhood.
    Hark! The herald angels sing…

    Reply
  16. Mary Jo, it is a lovely experience, especially when the weather is warm and the night balmy and velvety dark. In Carol’s photo above, the storm clouds threatened, but it didn’t eventuate, and only added drama to the sky.
    And I think the belting out of carols is a wonderfully joyous thing to do. It doesn’t matter whether the singing is wonderful or not — t’s the pleasure that counts IMO.

    Reply
  17. Mary Jo, it is a lovely experience, especially when the weather is warm and the night balmy and velvety dark. In Carol’s photo above, the storm clouds threatened, but it didn’t eventuate, and only added drama to the sky.
    And I think the belting out of carols is a wonderfully joyous thing to do. It doesn’t matter whether the singing is wonderful or not — t’s the pleasure that counts IMO.

    Reply
  18. Mary Jo, it is a lovely experience, especially when the weather is warm and the night balmy and velvety dark. In Carol’s photo above, the storm clouds threatened, but it didn’t eventuate, and only added drama to the sky.
    And I think the belting out of carols is a wonderfully joyous thing to do. It doesn’t matter whether the singing is wonderful or not — t’s the pleasure that counts IMO.

    Reply
  19. Mary Jo, it is a lovely experience, especially when the weather is warm and the night balmy and velvety dark. In Carol’s photo above, the storm clouds threatened, but it didn’t eventuate, and only added drama to the sky.
    And I think the belting out of carols is a wonderfully joyous thing to do. It doesn’t matter whether the singing is wonderful or not — t’s the pleasure that counts IMO.

    Reply
  20. Mary Jo, it is a lovely experience, especially when the weather is warm and the night balmy and velvety dark. In Carol’s photo above, the storm clouds threatened, but it didn’t eventuate, and only added drama to the sky.
    And I think the belting out of carols is a wonderfully joyous thing to do. It doesn’t matter whether the singing is wonderful or not — t’s the pleasure that counts IMO.

    Reply
  21. I grew up going to the carols by candlelight in various places.
    The Melbourne carols (on Christmas Eve) have so many good performers at the end of the night. David Hobson’s performance “officially” signals the beginning of Christmas – until he sings “The Holy City”, Christmas has not begun! Do you remember when he forgot the lyrics and had to ask them to start again?!. 🙂
    I just wish some carols didn’t have do many dreadful reality show rejects these days… :/
    However, it was only recently that it really occurred to me the event was such an Australian thing. Even though I’ve lived through many Northern Hemisphere Christmases, I never really thought about how impossible it would be to host an event in the snow!

    Reply
  22. I grew up going to the carols by candlelight in various places.
    The Melbourne carols (on Christmas Eve) have so many good performers at the end of the night. David Hobson’s performance “officially” signals the beginning of Christmas – until he sings “The Holy City”, Christmas has not begun! Do you remember when he forgot the lyrics and had to ask them to start again?!. 🙂
    I just wish some carols didn’t have do many dreadful reality show rejects these days… :/
    However, it was only recently that it really occurred to me the event was such an Australian thing. Even though I’ve lived through many Northern Hemisphere Christmases, I never really thought about how impossible it would be to host an event in the snow!

    Reply
  23. I grew up going to the carols by candlelight in various places.
    The Melbourne carols (on Christmas Eve) have so many good performers at the end of the night. David Hobson’s performance “officially” signals the beginning of Christmas – until he sings “The Holy City”, Christmas has not begun! Do you remember when he forgot the lyrics and had to ask them to start again?!. 🙂
    I just wish some carols didn’t have do many dreadful reality show rejects these days… :/
    However, it was only recently that it really occurred to me the event was such an Australian thing. Even though I’ve lived through many Northern Hemisphere Christmases, I never really thought about how impossible it would be to host an event in the snow!

    Reply
  24. I grew up going to the carols by candlelight in various places.
    The Melbourne carols (on Christmas Eve) have so many good performers at the end of the night. David Hobson’s performance “officially” signals the beginning of Christmas – until he sings “The Holy City”, Christmas has not begun! Do you remember when he forgot the lyrics and had to ask them to start again?!. 🙂
    I just wish some carols didn’t have do many dreadful reality show rejects these days… :/
    However, it was only recently that it really occurred to me the event was such an Australian thing. Even though I’ve lived through many Northern Hemisphere Christmases, I never really thought about how impossible it would be to host an event in the snow!

    Reply
  25. I grew up going to the carols by candlelight in various places.
    The Melbourne carols (on Christmas Eve) have so many good performers at the end of the night. David Hobson’s performance “officially” signals the beginning of Christmas – until he sings “The Holy City”, Christmas has not begun! Do you remember when he forgot the lyrics and had to ask them to start again?!. 🙂
    I just wish some carols didn’t have do many dreadful reality show rejects these days… :/
    However, it was only recently that it really occurred to me the event was such an Australian thing. Even though I’ve lived through many Northern Hemisphere Christmases, I never really thought about how impossible it would be to host an event in the snow!

    Reply
  26. Sonya, it wasn’t until I came to write this post that I learned the history of Carols by Candlelight. It’s such a Melbourne institution, I’d taken it for granted all these years. And no, I hadn’t really thought about how impossible it would be in colder climes, either. I remember one snowy winter abroad some carol singers came around to the house I was staying in, but they were well rugged up and had to keep moving to stay warm.

    Reply
  27. Sonya, it wasn’t until I came to write this post that I learned the history of Carols by Candlelight. It’s such a Melbourne institution, I’d taken it for granted all these years. And no, I hadn’t really thought about how impossible it would be in colder climes, either. I remember one snowy winter abroad some carol singers came around to the house I was staying in, but they were well rugged up and had to keep moving to stay warm.

    Reply
  28. Sonya, it wasn’t until I came to write this post that I learned the history of Carols by Candlelight. It’s such a Melbourne institution, I’d taken it for granted all these years. And no, I hadn’t really thought about how impossible it would be in colder climes, either. I remember one snowy winter abroad some carol singers came around to the house I was staying in, but they were well rugged up and had to keep moving to stay warm.

    Reply
  29. Sonya, it wasn’t until I came to write this post that I learned the history of Carols by Candlelight. It’s such a Melbourne institution, I’d taken it for granted all these years. And no, I hadn’t really thought about how impossible it would be in colder climes, either. I remember one snowy winter abroad some carol singers came around to the house I was staying in, but they were well rugged up and had to keep moving to stay warm.

    Reply
  30. Sonya, it wasn’t until I came to write this post that I learned the history of Carols by Candlelight. It’s such a Melbourne institution, I’d taken it for granted all these years. And no, I hadn’t really thought about how impossible it would be in colder climes, either. I remember one snowy winter abroad some carol singers came around to the house I was staying in, but they were well rugged up and had to keep moving to stay warm.

    Reply
  31. I sang carols at a meetup at Brick Church with a crowd of hundreds of people. It was the 78th anniversary of the lighting of trees along Park Avenue in NYC for the Christmas season. We were outside the church in weather with high enough temperatures to feel good. It felt joyous to sing
    with such a huge group.
    I had another chance at caroling at St. Bart’s church during their Christmas concert featuring some of the most astounding harmony from their children’s choir and adult choir.
    There are wonderful carols to sing at Unity Church every year where I attend services, and this year was also positive and uplifting.

    Reply
  32. I sang carols at a meetup at Brick Church with a crowd of hundreds of people. It was the 78th anniversary of the lighting of trees along Park Avenue in NYC for the Christmas season. We were outside the church in weather with high enough temperatures to feel good. It felt joyous to sing
    with such a huge group.
    I had another chance at caroling at St. Bart’s church during their Christmas concert featuring some of the most astounding harmony from their children’s choir and adult choir.
    There are wonderful carols to sing at Unity Church every year where I attend services, and this year was also positive and uplifting.

    Reply
  33. I sang carols at a meetup at Brick Church with a crowd of hundreds of people. It was the 78th anniversary of the lighting of trees along Park Avenue in NYC for the Christmas season. We were outside the church in weather with high enough temperatures to feel good. It felt joyous to sing
    with such a huge group.
    I had another chance at caroling at St. Bart’s church during their Christmas concert featuring some of the most astounding harmony from their children’s choir and adult choir.
    There are wonderful carols to sing at Unity Church every year where I attend services, and this year was also positive and uplifting.

    Reply
  34. I sang carols at a meetup at Brick Church with a crowd of hundreds of people. It was the 78th anniversary of the lighting of trees along Park Avenue in NYC for the Christmas season. We were outside the church in weather with high enough temperatures to feel good. It felt joyous to sing
    with such a huge group.
    I had another chance at caroling at St. Bart’s church during their Christmas concert featuring some of the most astounding harmony from their children’s choir and adult choir.
    There are wonderful carols to sing at Unity Church every year where I attend services, and this year was also positive and uplifting.

    Reply
  35. I sang carols at a meetup at Brick Church with a crowd of hundreds of people. It was the 78th anniversary of the lighting of trees along Park Avenue in NYC for the Christmas season. We were outside the church in weather with high enough temperatures to feel good. It felt joyous to sing
    with such a huge group.
    I had another chance at caroling at St. Bart’s church during their Christmas concert featuring some of the most astounding harmony from their children’s choir and adult choir.
    There are wonderful carols to sing at Unity Church every year where I attend services, and this year was also positive and uplifting.

    Reply
  36. Gee, I haven’t been caroling since I was in my 20s. When I was a child, all of the kids in the neighborhood would get together and would go around singing carols through the neighborhood. No candles – just flashlights, but it was such fun.
    It was quite common for kids to do that (usually through a church group) but it has been a few years since I’ve seen it happening much – and that is too bad.

    Reply
  37. Gee, I haven’t been caroling since I was in my 20s. When I was a child, all of the kids in the neighborhood would get together and would go around singing carols through the neighborhood. No candles – just flashlights, but it was such fun.
    It was quite common for kids to do that (usually through a church group) but it has been a few years since I’ve seen it happening much – and that is too bad.

    Reply
  38. Gee, I haven’t been caroling since I was in my 20s. When I was a child, all of the kids in the neighborhood would get together and would go around singing carols through the neighborhood. No candles – just flashlights, but it was such fun.
    It was quite common for kids to do that (usually through a church group) but it has been a few years since I’ve seen it happening much – and that is too bad.

    Reply
  39. Gee, I haven’t been caroling since I was in my 20s. When I was a child, all of the kids in the neighborhood would get together and would go around singing carols through the neighborhood. No candles – just flashlights, but it was such fun.
    It was quite common for kids to do that (usually through a church group) but it has been a few years since I’ve seen it happening much – and that is too bad.

    Reply
  40. Gee, I haven’t been caroling since I was in my 20s. When I was a child, all of the kids in the neighborhood would get together and would go around singing carols through the neighborhood. No candles – just flashlights, but it was such fun.
    It was quite common for kids to do that (usually through a church group) but it has been a few years since I’ve seen it happening much – and that is too bad.

    Reply
  41. Mary, that’s the kind of caroling I remember from when I was a kid and had a cold Northern Hemisphere Christmas, though I never did it. I’m sad it seems to be dying out. The Salvation Army band used to come around my neighborhood and play, and collect donations, in the lead-up to Christmas, but they haven’t been for some years now. Here I think the Carols By Candlelight seems to be growing in popularity, though I’m not sure about the smaller gatherings in the suburbs and country towns.

    Reply
  42. Mary, that’s the kind of caroling I remember from when I was a kid and had a cold Northern Hemisphere Christmas, though I never did it. I’m sad it seems to be dying out. The Salvation Army band used to come around my neighborhood and play, and collect donations, in the lead-up to Christmas, but they haven’t been for some years now. Here I think the Carols By Candlelight seems to be growing in popularity, though I’m not sure about the smaller gatherings in the suburbs and country towns.

    Reply
  43. Mary, that’s the kind of caroling I remember from when I was a kid and had a cold Northern Hemisphere Christmas, though I never did it. I’m sad it seems to be dying out. The Salvation Army band used to come around my neighborhood and play, and collect donations, in the lead-up to Christmas, but they haven’t been for some years now. Here I think the Carols By Candlelight seems to be growing in popularity, though I’m not sure about the smaller gatherings in the suburbs and country towns.

    Reply
  44. Mary, that’s the kind of caroling I remember from when I was a kid and had a cold Northern Hemisphere Christmas, though I never did it. I’m sad it seems to be dying out. The Salvation Army band used to come around my neighborhood and play, and collect donations, in the lead-up to Christmas, but they haven’t been for some years now. Here I think the Carols By Candlelight seems to be growing in popularity, though I’m not sure about the smaller gatherings in the suburbs and country towns.

    Reply
  45. Mary, that’s the kind of caroling I remember from when I was a kid and had a cold Northern Hemisphere Christmas, though I never did it. I’m sad it seems to be dying out. The Salvation Army band used to come around my neighborhood and play, and collect donations, in the lead-up to Christmas, but they haven’t been for some years now. Here I think the Carols By Candlelight seems to be growing in popularity, though I’m not sure about the smaller gatherings in the suburbs and country towns.

    Reply
  46. It’s a lovely tradition. I’m so glad you shared with us.
    I did used to go out caroling when I was younger, but haven’t done so for years.
    Patricia Franzino, when I lived in Jersey City, my church was Fifth Avenue Presbyterian — which I’m sure your aware of. But I don’t know if they had Caroling or not.
    I was usually so involved in work deadlines, that much of the holiday activities passed right over my head!

    Reply
  47. It’s a lovely tradition. I’m so glad you shared with us.
    I did used to go out caroling when I was younger, but haven’t done so for years.
    Patricia Franzino, when I lived in Jersey City, my church was Fifth Avenue Presbyterian — which I’m sure your aware of. But I don’t know if they had Caroling or not.
    I was usually so involved in work deadlines, that much of the holiday activities passed right over my head!

    Reply
  48. It’s a lovely tradition. I’m so glad you shared with us.
    I did used to go out caroling when I was younger, but haven’t done so for years.
    Patricia Franzino, when I lived in Jersey City, my church was Fifth Avenue Presbyterian — which I’m sure your aware of. But I don’t know if they had Caroling or not.
    I was usually so involved in work deadlines, that much of the holiday activities passed right over my head!

    Reply
  49. It’s a lovely tradition. I’m so glad you shared with us.
    I did used to go out caroling when I was younger, but haven’t done so for years.
    Patricia Franzino, when I lived in Jersey City, my church was Fifth Avenue Presbyterian — which I’m sure your aware of. But I don’t know if they had Caroling or not.
    I was usually so involved in work deadlines, that much of the holiday activities passed right over my head!

    Reply
  50. It’s a lovely tradition. I’m so glad you shared with us.
    I did used to go out caroling when I was younger, but haven’t done so for years.
    Patricia Franzino, when I lived in Jersey City, my church was Fifth Avenue Presbyterian — which I’m sure your aware of. But I don’t know if they had Caroling or not.
    I was usually so involved in work deadlines, that much of the holiday activities passed right over my head!

    Reply

Leave a Comment