On Tuesday evening, students and staff gathered together to share the annual Shawnigan tradition of a festive Christmas dinner in Marion Hall followed by a candlelit Christmas chapel service.
The service commenced with a solo performance of the first verse of Once in Royal David’s City by Amelia M. The choir sang the second verse as they processed down the aisle before being joined in song by the whole congregation for the final two verses.
In his opening words, Reverend Jim Holland focused on the universal aspects of the festive period and the spirit of generosity and peace that Christmas represents.
“Tonight we gather to celebrate light, hope, love and joy, and as we gather in this beautiful chapel we pause to remember those who find themselves this night in less comfortable surroundings—those hounded by war and plague and poverty. As we enjoy the beauty of these natural surroundings, we remember also our First Nations neighbours who have lived on this island for thousands of years; we remember we have not always treated them as good neighbours and this night we pray for reconciliation and healing between us. We pray that this community might continue to reach out beyond these gates and find ways to serve our world.”
In between carols, lessons were read by Spencer N., Zylo G., Janie Z., Chloe S, Siena V., Jojo T. and Kanon G. The congregation was also treated to a performance of I’ll Be Home for Christmas by the Chamber Choir, solos by Daniela D. and Angelina H., and the Carol of the Bells piano duet by Alyn S. and Robin X.
In his reflection, Headmaster Larry Lamont quoted from the 9th century Irish poem Pangur Ban about a scholar and his cat. He focused on the final couplet, “I get wisdom day and night / Turning darkness into light,” as the source of inspiration for his reflection. He drew upon his family’s experience living in the Nordic Region and their love of the Scandinavian tradition of Santa Lucia’s Day, with the saint represented as the bearer of light amid the darkness of winter. A group of students and chapel guests with Nordic backgrounds then gathered on stage to regale the congregation with a rendition of the Santa Lucia song in Norwegian.
“My reflection this evening gives me an opportunity to welcome all our guests and congratulate our students and staff on their contributions to a wonderful term here at Shawnigan,” he said. “During the course of this term all of us have been given the opportunity to make a positive and supportive contribution and to make a different to our Shawnigan community. I trust that you can pause on reflect on the term gone by with pride and to consider what difference you have made as an individual to the lives of others; please consider this also as you step beyond our campus for the Christmas break and step into other communities that ask for your contribution. My family and I wish you a happy and restful holiday. May the new year bring with it peace and happiness. It is a great privilege to be your headmaster.”
During the singing of the final carol, prefects walked through the congregation to light candles, which were then held aloft in a moment of reflection.
This school community chapel was preceded on Dec. 16 by a separate candlelit carol service for the local community. Approximately 150 guests from the Cowichan Valley were welcomed onto campus for this inaugural festive outreach event. In addition to enjoying a special service and carols in the chapel, guests were then invited to Marion Hall to enjoy a warming supper and the cheerful hospitality of Shawnigan staff and students.
Shawnigan Lake School is a co-educational boarding school on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. The school is home to nationally-ranked academics, arts and athletics, with 100 per cent of graduates accepted to university.