The Southport Group annual family carol service was held at Emmanuel Parish Church, which saw over 200 brethren from the Southport Group of Lodges and Chapters. Also in attendance were brethren from other Masonic Orders with their families and friends. Rev Neil Stothers, Curate of Emmanuel Church led the proceedings with the carols and music being provided by the organist Dr Brian Hodge, the Choristers of Emmanuel Church and the Marshside Brass Band under the direction of Peter Lockett. There were a number of Southport Masons who are members of both the choir and the Brass Band.
The brethren having been issued with a dispensation were enabled to wear their Masonic regalia if they wished at this event – It was nice to see so many lodges and chapters represented as the brethren and companions processed into the church.
Before the start of the service, the congregation was entertained by Christmas music from the Band, ensuring that everyone was in the Christmas spirit and ready to sing their voices out to the hymn sheet.
The director of ceremonies for the day was Paul Heaney who once the Hymn ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ started led the procession of readers, group officials and grand officers who were then joined by the excellent turnout from masons who were representing their respective lodges, chapters and other Orders. The choir and Curate of Emmanuel Church followed the Masons and took their rightful place in the choir stalls in the Chancel.
Rev Neil Stothers welcomed the congregation and said how nice it was to see so many people in attendance. Lessons and readings during the service were given by Tony Johnson, Lee Martin, John Karran, Mike Wallis, Robert Thornton-Davidson, Brian Molyneux, Geoff Lee, Paul Renton and Robert Wright which were punctuated with the Carols and hymns which the congregation all performed with fine voices.
Favourites such as O little town of Bethlehem, Away in a manger, Silent night , Hark the herald angels sing and Good King Wenceslas were sung and the Band performed a solo of Jingle bell Rock while the Choir performed a captivating solo of Suo Gan, which is a Welsh Lullaby.
At the end of the service ‘O come, all ye faithful’, was sung as the recessional Hymn which was the sign for the brethren to formally make their way out of the church. The congregation then made their way to the Church hall where, tea, coffee, biscuits and chocolates were provided. This gave everybody an opportunity to socialise and comment on how much they had enjoyed the service.
Special thanks should go to the Vicar of Emmanuel Church for allowing the Southport Group of Freemasons to once again hold their annual Carol service within their church and to the choir and the Marshside Brass Band for their splendid contribution to the carol service. Further thanks should go to Geoff Jackson for coordinating the event, Paul Heaney for acting a DC, Brian Skinner for organising the stewards, Roy Crawford for organising the procession of Masons and the other Masons who assisted during the service.
The offering from the service was divided equally between Emmanuel Parish Church and Claire House Children’s Hospice.