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Singing carols is growing in Brisbane (even if it’s stinking hot)

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Christmas carols: The tradition of singing Christmas music is growing in Brisbane and in other Australian cities. Sydney-based arts association Artes Christi (pictured) will team up with the Oratorio at Mary Immaculate, Annerley, for a traditional performance of Christmas carols and Handel’s Messiah. Photo: Patrick J. Lee.

SINGING traditional carols in churches has become a growing trend in Brisbane’s blistering summer heat.

With only weeks until Catholics welcome the Christ child on Christmas day, traditional carols will be a major focus in several Brisbane parishes.

Sydney-based arts association Artes Christi will team up with musicians from the Brisbane Oratory choirs at Mary Immaculate, Annerley, for a traditional performance of Christmas carols and Handel’s Messiah.

The performance coincides with Artes Christi’s east coast carolling tour, including a stopover in Brisbane on December 17.

Alto singer Emma O’Shea, of Sydney, said Artes Christi performers wanted to bring the tradition of singing carols in churches to Australia, having organised a similar tour in Europe last year.

The group performed in Rome, London, Cambridge, Oxford and Paris, and even joined the Vatican Choir to sing on Gaudete Sunday in St Peter’s Basilica.

Ms O’Shea said the tradition of singing carols in churches was lost in Australia, possibly due to the summer season.

“We’d like to bring the tradition back,” she said.

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Outdoor performance: Artes Christi singers performing outside St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney.

This is Artes Christi’s fifth Christmas tour around Australia, and will feature favourites like O Come O Come Emmanuel, Oh Holy Night and Angels We Have Heard on High, as well as an original piece by Oratory music director Ronan Reily.

“We will be singing at twelve churches through Advent this year, including six on the tour, so it’s a bit like the twelve days of Christmas, each church providing a step closer towards the Birth of Our Lord,” Ms O’Shea said.

The group also travels with a Catholic priest, Fr Bill Milsted, who reminds audiences of the sacred nature of the tradition.

“Before every carols performance, (Fr Milsted) says to all who are gathered that it’s not a performance, and no applause is needed,” Ms O’Shea said.

Artes Christi also encourages churches to keep the Blessed Sacrament inside the tabernacle “to remind everyone we are in a sacred space”.

St Brigid’s Red Hill is also continuing its annual twilight carols event, performing This Little Babe, by Britten; Magnificat in G, by Stanford; Magnum Mysterium, by Lauridsen; and Vaughn-Williams’ Fantasia on Greensleeves.

Traditional carolling is often accredited to St Francis of Assisi, who started Nativity plays accompanied by sung canticles in the early 1200s.

Pope St Telesphorus is also said to have ordered parishes to sing Gloria In Excelsis Deo during Christmas Masses.

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