A Chaplain’s Early Christmas

By Revd Dr Donald MacEwan, University Chaplain


Christmas comes early in St Andrews. It always had to happen before the students left for home. But this year with a new academic calendar it had to happen before the exams began on Monday 10 December. So the St Salvator’s Chapel Choir were rehearsing music in English, Latin, German and Church Slavonic from mid-autumn; readers were finding the story of shepherds and angels pinging into their inbox in mid-November; and Estates were sourcing holly with berries before St Andrew’s Day was done. Usually ministers complain about shops pushing Christmas too early – this year I beat them to it!

But what a lovely, if early, Christmas we’ve had. St Salvator’s Chapel was just big enough for the Alumni st-salvators-chapelCarol Service, but far too small for the student version which filled Holy Trinity Church’s beautiful spaces last Friday. The service doesn’t take too many risks with the familiar: we began with a soprano singing the opening verse of Once in Royal David’s City, and ended with Adeste Fideles ringing round the church. But did the congregation really hear me singing a few lines, unaccompanied, from A Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl? And did I really begin the sermon by declaring my unrequited love for Lucy Mangan, the brilliant Guardian columnist? But one thing was clear – it was certainly an occasion when in singing the glorious songs of old, we heard the deep music of our souls.

One final memory of this year’s Christmas as the Chaplain: at one student dinner, I took part in Secret Santa. His gift – a small box containing a game called Nun Bowling. The tagline – It’s Sinfully Fun! I don’t remember a class in theology college on that.

Let me wish you a merry Christmas – whenever you celebrate it – and a wonderful new year.


To carry out its work, the Chaplaincy has expressed a need for 300 new Bibles, replacing copies that have become worn or damaged.  To date, nearly £900 has been secured for this purpose.  To support this effort, please visit our website (to make a gift, simply include “replacement Bibles” in the designation field of the form).  If you would like to purchase a copy of the Chapel Choir’s newest CD, click here.


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