As well as the carols learning session on the first Saturday in December, which has been running successfully for a number of years now, Anne Gregson (leader of the Carols Band) is setting up a new singing group to learn the Bradford on Avon carols in harmony.

Anne Gregson writes: I’d like to invite you all to a free weekly singing group to learn some very special and unusual Christmas carols that we sing in the pubs in Bradford on Avon. The first session will be in the Saxon Church on Sunday afternoon on 24 September at 2pm. On subsequent Sundays we will meet in the Swan Hotel, Bradford on Avon at 2pm. The group will run for October and November only, because after that we’ll be singing the carols in the pubs!

Every year since 2010 we have had some wonderful sessions in what is becoming a continuing tradition of singing unusual carols in Bradford on Avon, including many local to the area, in glorious harmonies.  We have three “Sings” on Sunday afternoons in December in a different pub each week. The harmonies have been taught to local choirs by their leaders and everyone sings their hearts out.  The atmosphere is electric and a really uplifting experience.

This year we have decided to form a separate singing group to learn the carols together with their harmonies so that people who are not members of the choirs can join in.  You don’t have to commit to attending every week and we won’t be charging you money, so if you can’t make every session then come when you can. All parts will be taught ‘by ear’ so you don’t need to be able to read music.

The carols are not from the standard repertoire of Christmas carols, but many of them originated in the 18th or early 19th century at a time when most churches had a wooden gallery at the back where choirs, accompanied by bands of mixed instruments, led the singing.  We also have a band of mixed instruments that play along. We have no religious affiliation but sing the carols for the beauty and joy of them.

The idea was inspired by a tradition of singing local carols in pubs around South Yorkshire, sometimes called the “Sheffield Carols”.  However we wanted our carols to be as local to Bradford on Avon as possible.  I researched local carols from Wiltshire and Somerset and we made these the core of our repertoire. The closest carol we found was ‘Carlingcott’, from the village of the same name which is only about eleven miles from Bradford on Avon.

We look forward to seeing you on 24 September.