FOR many, the wonderful carol service in the Cathedral of the Assumption heralded the beginning of Christmas, with hundreds gathering to be part of it. Entitled For God so loved the world, the carol service was held on the Sunday before Christmas Day and celebrated by Bishop Denis Nulty.
Musical director was Marian Gaynor, with Carlow Youth Orchestra conducted by Majella Swan beautifully accompanying the many participating choirs. Donations on the night went to causes with close connections to the Cathedral parish: the Fr John Cummins Centre and St Vincent de Paul.
A joyful and uplifting atmosphere was very much evident, with some wonderful pieces and readings performed. Featured on the night were the Cathedral Choir, Carlow Voices, the cathedral’s Male Schola, Cór an Aifrinn and Scoil Mhuire gan Smál.
A number of soloists also added enormously to the carol service, including Michael Byrne, who performed O Come, O Come Emmanuel, Suzanne Dunne, who sang Ave Maria, Kathleen McDermott, who performed O Holy Night and young Ella Maguire, who touched the hearts of many with her beautiful rendition of Away in a manager.
The congregations pieces, including Hark! the herald angels sing and O come, all ye faithful were among the many highlights from this wonderful evening of music.
A particularly poignant moment came when the cathedral was filled by candlelight, with each member of the congregation holding a candle.
Bishop Nulty paid tribute to all involved in the carol service, in particular musical director Marion Gaynor and conductor Majella Swan, the various readers, servers and volunteers who make the cathedral’s annual carol service such a spiritual and essential part of Christmas services in Carlow town.