On Christmas Eve the normally deserted streets of 'Downlong' St.Ives echo to the sounds of local carols that have been passed down through the generations. These Cornish Carols composed by Warmington, Broad, Thomas Merritt and "Cully" Williams have been sung across the world on mountaintops and in mines underground, indeed wherever Cornish folk have emigrated.
Up until the late 60's many of the chapels in St. Ives had their own carol choir and in the weeks leading up to Christmas and beyond would move around the town, synchronising their locations (or stands), to ensure that their music would not clash. The introduction of double glazing and television meant that the sounds echoing across the harbour did not permeate into the houses and the popularity of the choirs waned. However, the enthusiasm of the singers did not die and the legacy of these Cornish musicians lived on when the chapel choirs combined. Visits to retirement and nursing homes, hospitals and other organised venues ensured that the Carols received their annual airing.
This Christmas Eve it is hoped to commence the Carols at 9.30pm assembling at the town's War Memorial and moving down through the town (if the weather is bad the choir will sing indoors at FSMC, Fore Street Methodist Chapel). The choir usually sings into Christmas Morning.
For those no longer able to come on Christmas Eve on Saturday 19th December, commencing at 7pm FSMC, St. Ives will host an evening of traditional Cornish carols to which everyone is invited. This is an opportunity to again join in unity to celebrate the miracle of Christmas as only St.Ives can. 60-70 local people are anticipated to form the basis of the choir and visitors and non-choristers are most welcome to attend. Words for the carols will be provided. Those who have (or need) music are requested to bring these. The format will be informal and refreshments will be provided.
Everyone is welcome to come and help maintain this celebration of our Christian heritage and the unique tradition of St.Ives’ carol singing.
On Sunday 13th December a Christingle service will be held in the Chapel commencing at 4pm to which Children are especially welcome.
The Junior Church Nativity will take place on Sunday 20th December at 10.45am and the Traditional Carols by Candlelight service will start at 6pm that evening.
The chapel will be open over the Christmas period from 11am to 5pm for the public to pop in and view the different Christmas trees adorning the building, decorated by various sections of the church fellowship. This has been a popular event in past years and on Monday evening 21st December the FSMC Gospel choir will be singing there informally.
At 10am on Christmas Day an all-age service will be led by the President of the Methodist Conference Rev. Steve Wild.
New Years Eve the Chapel will be open as usual for revellers to have a place of refuge and relaxation.
Gospel Choir Concert
As the days leading up to Christmas is a busy time for everyone the FSMC Gospel choir will be presenting a New Year concert on Saturday 2nd January, commencing at 7pm in the Chapel. The concert will include a Carol recently discovered with the tune entitled 'Mount Zion'. The composer of this tune is unknown but as the Carol Choir usually sings on Mount Zion near the Wharf on Christmas Eve it is thought that a local musician may have composed it years ago and named it after this spot.