23 November 2022

'The perfect way to get yourself in the mood for Christmas'

Major Mal Davies

A photo of carol singing at Celebrating Christmas with The Salvation Army at the Royal Albert Hall featuring spotlights and Christmas trees.
Photos: Paul Harmer

Major Mal Davies previews Celebrating Christmas with The Salvation Army at the Royal Albert Hall.

If you attend this year’s carol concert at the Royal Albert Hall on 7 December, and you happen to sit in seat 87 in row 11 in the K stalls, remember to look under your seat.

That’s where Queen Victoria placed the granite foundation stone on 20 May 1867. Beneath the foundation stone is a vessel holding gold and silver coins and an inscription by the then prime minister Edwin Smith-Stanley. As the stone was lowered in place, a 21-gun salute could be heard from Hyde Park along with a trumpet fanfare.

Mind you, even if they were sounding again on the evening of 7 December, you probably wouldn’t hear them because there will be thousands of people singing carols inside the Royal Albert Hall.

The Salvation Army’s annual carol concert is a wonderful night of music and singing, Scripture readings and celebration. Last year saw the concerts resume after a forced break during the Covid-19 pandemic, and those present saw a range of gifted artists perform. Arguably, however, the one that stole the night was the Music Man Group, led by David Stanley, and their memorable rendition of ‘Love Shine a Light’.

A photo the Music Man Project performing at the Royal Albert Hall holding microphones and singing
The Music Man Project performing last year

This year will include crowd favourites the International Staff Songsters and International Staff Band, along with the Broxbourne Handbell Ringers. The group was formed more than 45 years ago in Hertfordshire, where handbell ringing groups have been playing since the 1850s. They play on five octaves of Whitechapel bells – and several octaves of hand chimes – and regularly perform at regional, national and international events.

‘I feel so honoured to be a part of The Salvation Army’s Christmas concert,’ says EastEnders and The Pact star Tilly Vosburgh, who will present a reading. ‘The work the Army does is incredible, and so valuable, particularly in these uncertain times.’

Also performing will be 13-year-old singing star Cormac Thompson, who released his first album, Hear My Voice, in 2020 and, in 2021, was a finalist in the BBC Young Chorister of the Year. His soprano voice is sure to win many new fans at this event.

The evening will also include contributions from Dr Naar M’fundisi- Holloway (Research and Development Unit) and the Artists in Exile ensemble, a message from Territorial Commander Commissioner Anthony Cotterill and a testimony from a Ukrainian refugee.

There will be plenty of carols to sing and lots of festive decorations – the perfect way to get yourself in the mood for Christmas. Whatever seat you’re in, I hope to see you there!

Written by

Major Mal Davies

Major Mal Davies


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