Newcastle University’s Christian Union took charge of Christmas this year in Jesmond, organising a festive hour of candlelit carols last Thursday.
Hundreds of students made their way across the frosty city and gathered in their most cheesy Christmas jumpers, a few Santa hats and reindeer antlers also made an appearance, to completely fill up Jesmond Parish Church for some merriment and cheer. Although, rather unfortunately, no one was seen donning full, cardboard Christmas present fancy dress, as has been known in previous years.
The striking architecture and dark wood panelling of the Church, was complimented perfectly by the dim, flickering of white candles clusters, evoking a calm and peaceful atmosphere. A considerable feat, as both the gallery and ground level seating were completely packed with attendees.
“We think the night went really well, the atmosphere created by Newcastle Uni Brass Ensemble and the New Vocal Ensemble was fantastic,” said Kezia Charissa Toto, the Christian Union’s events secretary. “Everyone seemed to be really enjoying the service. But most of all, as a Christian Union we were really glad that we had this opportunity to share what we believe – that Jesus Christ came to earth as a baby to take our sin to the cross and die in our place to show His love for us – this Christmas with approximately 1300 students. What a night!”
Carolling classics began with ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, and went on to include ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’, ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’, and everyone’s favourite, ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’, which sounded fantastic alongside the live brass band, organ and choir. These were accompanied by prayers, led by the members of the Christian Union, Latin choir-solo performances and a message to look into the meaning of Christmas today, and the place of God in this world. After the service, students really made the most of the free cinnamon and orange spiced punch, hot chocolate and mince pies, provided by the society. The Christian Union volunteers were also giving out literature complimentary to the discussion surrounding the role of Christmas.
“For this event we reached out to Jesmond Parish Church and they kindly let us use their amazing church building,” Kezia told The Courier. “We spent the past week setting up the church, putting out approximately 1000 candles. We also flyered the university in a few different spots. On the day of the service, the New Vocal Ensemble has joined us to do some carolling at the Forum area while we are flyering so that was fun!
“We also organised a 24 hour prayer starting on Wednesday morning until Thursday morning for our members to be praying for smooth-running of the events and for the message to be hard hitting. Our members were so up for it which I think was really cool!
“Before the 8pm, our International Team has organised an International Meal for the International Students at Chaplaincy. They run it from 6-7.45pm and they brought the students along to the 8pm service Around 15 students came. They had a feast as so many of the CU members brought food incl chicken and white sauce, fajitas, chicken and broccoli pie, apple struddle, mince pies, cookies, gingerbread house, soup , roast potatoes, pasta bake, chilli, the list goes on!”
The Christian Union carol service is an annual December event, which is open to all students.