St. Patrick's Christmas Concert

 

A hum rose in the little theatre as I walked in. Three boys dressed in fur scurried about, boys that later I realised were to be mice. A beaming policeman bounced in the entrance, asking for doughnuts. Ah yes, the school Christmas concert. The familiar bustle brought back familiar memories.

Fr Eric, the rector and compere, welcomed us all and soon we were taken back to December 1818 – the birth of one of the sweetest of carols Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht, the famous Silent Night. It was the mice I had seen who had made home in the organ.

Music and organs remained the theme in the next sketch. The clock moved to the 1940s, when the sky was full of lead. German prisoners of war attend the midnight mass, but the congregation lacked an organist. And one of the prisoners rose to the occasion and for a while the enemies forgot their enmity.

It reminded me somewhat of the first world war incident, when on Christmas eve the young men climbed out of the trenches to embrace and not to butcher. It was moving.

The mood then lightened up with a mini-panto, where two not exactly the most cultured of people gate-crash a party thrown by one of the upper echelons of society – a baron if you please. In good panto tradition, we had a marriage, we had a smiling cupid, a chubby policeman and a rapping dj. Members of the audience were dragged on stage regardless of their wishes and of course, audience participation. The latter was somewhat unconventional, when a boy was not prepared to suspend fact for stage and decided to object to the marriage.

The crowning gem came at the last. We were treated with a filmed Christmas version of Bohemian rhapsody.  And it was definitely bohemian. This was a joint effort, with Salesians and staff from all sections chipping in the verses. Achieving perfection may have a value for ego, but participation has a value for life. And that is what St Patrick’s is all about. The journey itself is worth as much as the goal. That I felt. I also felt something else, which Fr Essery put in words when he held his hand out as I walked in – ‘Welcome home.’

Adrian Scerri