Thompson, CT: Singing on Sacred Ground
No such difficulties trouble Thompson Hill. The sacred ground is church land, and the gathering carolers admire the still life composed of wise children.
Following another song at the creche, the carolers move off the common to a house behind the Vernon Stiles Inn. Paul Morgan emerges to a serenade of “We Three Kings of Orient Are.” Morgan is the “guardian angel” who rescued and restored the inn 25 years ago. Barbara Loy shakes his hand and kisses his cheek. He doffs his cap.
The carolers walk south, their candlelights strung out. They entertain an elderly woman standing on her porch with two alert Dobermans. As they gather in front of another house, Peter Lange’s voice again rises up to lead them, and their voices are no longer tentative. Singing is like running before the wind. It is something we can do naturally, and even if we do not sing with any particular skill, we let our voices ring with simple gladness at the gift of song.
The singers have found their’ natural ease, their voices lofting the carols to the residents around the common. When the group arrives, finally, at the Vernon Stiles Inn, they stand on the porch and sing “Silent Night.” Entering and passing among the diners, they offer “Away in a Manger.” The carolers wind their way to a reception room, where mulled cider and Christmas cookies await them, and they conclude with “The First Noel” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.”
“Singing is tied directly to my soul,” one of the carolers says after the last notes have died. “These songs carry through the years. When I hear ‘O Come All Ye Faithful,’ I’m a kid again. Then I’m in a huge cathedral where I first heard it. I can sing a carol, and it brings back all my Christmases.”