A Service of Lessons and Carols

On Thursday 17 December we were privileged to be joined by Deputy Mayor of Croydon and John Fisher Alumnus, Cllr Wayne Trakas-Lawlor  for our annual service of lessons and Carols.  We were also joined by head masters emeriti Mr Terry King and Mr Pat Liddiard.

This year, to symbolise the specific importance of mother and son to the nativity story, our first four readings were done by four students with their mothers.


Matin Responsory, Palestrina

Once in Royal David’s City was followed by the opening prayer.

O God, who makest us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of Thy only Son, Jesus Christ. Grant that as we joyfully receive him for our redeemer, so we may with sure confidence behold him, when he shall come to be our judge; who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

Our first reading, from the prophet Isaiah  was read by Sebastian Nye in Year Eight and his mother

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone. For there is a child born for us, a song given to us, and dominion is laid on his shoulders; and this is the name they give him: Wondrous-Counsellor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Wide is his dominion in a peace that has no end, for the throne of David and for his royal power, which he establishes and makes secure in justice and integrity. From this time onwards and forever, the jealous love of God will do this.

Jesus and the Apple Tree was followed by  Away in a Manger after which the congregation joined in singing O Little Town of Bethlehem.

Joseph Conroy from Year Seven and his mother then read The Visitation

In the sixth month the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a    virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David, he will rule over the house of Jacob forever and his reign will have no end. Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin? ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you.’ The angel answered. ‘And the power of the Most High will cover you with its  shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God.’ ’I am the handmaid of the Lord’ said Mary. ‘Let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

Balulalow and This Little Babe were followed by a congregational The First Nowell, after which Edward Afriye from Year 10 and is mother read of The Birth of Jesus

And at this time Caesar Augustus issued a decree for a census of the whole world to be taken. This census took place whilst Quirinius was Governor of Syria, and everyone went to his own town to be registered. So Joseph set forth from the town of Nazareth in Galilee and travelled up to Judea to the town of David called Bethlehem, since he was of David’s house and line, in order to be          registered together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger because there was no room at the inn.

The Lamb and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen preceded Simon Cardozo and his mother reading the tale of the Shepherds

 In the countryside close by there were shepherds who lived in the fields and took it in turn to watch their flocks during the night. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified, but the angel said, ‘Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you, you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly with the angel there was a great throng of the heavenly host, praising God and singing: ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to those who enjoy his favour.’ Now when the angels had gone from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord hath made known to us’. So they hurried away and found Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds had to say. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told.

The staff choir sang As Dew in Aprille  and Deo Gracias and the congregation sung In the Bleak Midwinter.  Mr McCullagh read from the first chapter of John telling of Jesus’ pre-existance

In the beginning was the Word; the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through him. All that came to be had life in him, and that life was the light of man, a light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower.

The Word was the true Light that enlightens all men; and he was coming into the world. He was in the world that had its being through him, and the world did not know him. He came to his own home and his own people did not accept him. But to all who did accept him he gave power to    become children of God, to all who believe in the name of him who was born not of human stock or urge of the flesh or will of man, but of God himself. The Word was made flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Ding Dong Merrily on High and Hark the Herald Angels Sing rounded off the Service of Carols and Readings.  After the the closing prayer

May He who by His Incarnation gathered into one thing earthly and heavenly, fill you with the sweetness of inward peace and goodwill; and the blessing of God Almighty, the      Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be upon you and remain with you always.

the congregation joined in a rousing O Come All Ye Faithful we sat, and stayed sitting, as the choir left, until we could no longer hear them sing Hodie Christus Natus Est.

Mince pies and Mulled wine in the school hall followed where we were grateful to our special guest for being photographed with some of the choir


Matthew, Tom, Cllr Trakas Lawlor, Joseph, Jake, Monty and Joshua









STOP PRESS: New award

This morning Miss Harrington-Booth was voted Teacher of the Half Term by her peers and colleagues.

The great improvement in the choir in the past six years were one of the reasons read out for Miss HB being nominated, as was her tireless commitment and her cheerful manner.

Being the generous modest character she is, Miss HB would no doubt acknowledge the work Mr Ford also puts into the the choir’s success.

And no, Miss HB, we are not deleting this post.  You are an inspiration and the award is well deserved.


A busy week

We sang for the pupils of St Giles school on Thursday afternoon. They loved it!!!! They also sang some songs for us which were lovely!

On Saturday we sang for an hour and an half in Croydon’s Whitgift Shopping Centre to raise money for Royal Marsden Hospital

In the evening we entertained the crowd at the Fisher Festive Fireworks.   And all this was on top of rehearsing for the schools Carol Services.

Challoner House Epilogue


Thursday 26 November

Introit                              Matin Responsory                                 Palestrina

Reading        .          Romans 13: 8-12

The only thing you should owe to anyone is love for one another, for to love the other person is to fulfil the law.  All these: You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet, and all the other commandments that there are, are summed up in this single phrase: You must love your neighbour as yourself.  Love can cause no harm to your neighbour, and so love is the fulfilment of the Law.  Besides, you know the time has come; the moment is here for you to stop sleeping and wake up, because by now our salvation is nearer than when we first began to believe.

The night is nearly over, daylight is on the way; so let us throw off everything that belongs to the darkness and equip ourselves for the light.


Psalm 21             The King shall joy in thy strength                  Plainsong

Epilogue Prayers

Prayer 1
Almighty God, as we remember at this time the coming of Your Son Jesus Christ in great humility to take away our sins, we ask You to give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and to put on the armour of light so that we may ever follow in His footsteps.  Through the same Jesus Christ Your Son, our Lord   Amen
Prayer 2
Loving Father, give us grace in the coming Advent time so to order our lives that we may not owe anyone anything except the continuing debt of love.  Forgive us all and be patient with us, and help us likewise heartily to forgive others and to be patient with them, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen
Prayer 3
O Lord Jesus Christ, we ask you to prepare and make ready Your way, by turning our hearts to You and Your wisdom, that at Your second coming to judge the world we may all be found acceptable in Your sight, O You who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end.  Amen

Anthem                     Christus Factus Est                Bruckner

Hymn             Guide me, o thou great Redeemer            

 Guide me, O thou great Redeemer,
pilgrim though this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
hold me with thy powerful hand;
Bread of heaven,
feed me now and evermore.
Open now the crystal fountain,
whence the healing stream doth flow;
let the fiery cloudy pillar
                                  lead me all my journey through;                                   
strong Deliverer,
be thou still my Strength and Shield.
When I tread the verge of Jordan,
bid my anxious fears subside;
bear me through the swelling current,
land me safe on Canaan’s side;
songs of praises,
I will ever give to thee.
Gathering Manna Exodus 16:14-31

Gathering Manna Exodus 16:14-31

The Sutton and Cheam Music Festival


Our winners shield

Adjudicated by Mr Peter Gritton.
Secular class (Tequila Samba and Fix You)
The boys sang really well and the adjudicator commended us on our clear sound and diction. He loved the energy in the louder sections and the added actions of younger boys star jumping to the words “Tequila!” and “Carumba!”  Joe and Callum’s piano duet was also positively mentioned.
The altos were commended in Fix You for their warm, cantabile solo at the start. Mr Gritton was impressed with how we managed to increase the intensity and described it as most climactic.
St. Philomena’s School were awarded 88 marks, we were awarded 89 marks, both in the distinction category. But Old Palace won with 90 points gaining outstanding.
Sacred class (Ave Verum, Mozart and Christus Factus Est)

Sean accepts the shield on our behalf

We won this class with 90 marks putting us in the outstanding category against st Marys Ladies Choir and St Marys Church Choir, Beddington who were both placed in the very good category.
In Ave Verum, the boys were congratulated for the seamless phrasing demonstrating very clever staggered breathing which culminated in a beautiful blend across the parts.
Mr Gritton continued to say that Christus Factus Est is considered a “tour de force” and is one of the hardest vocal pieces to sustain successfully in all the choral repertoire.  We obviously have a very talented choir who are in very good hands.
Our performance had a dark, dramatic mood and our dynamic range was really tested. We coped admirably when the parts became more independent and there were some spell binding moments which left Mt Gritton flabbergasted.
Mr Gritton commented “If every boys’ school had this kind of experience, the opportunity to perform the type of pieces we do, it would be like me training to do the pole vault… Essentially the impossible”

To the victors, the spoils

Friday 20 November

We will be competing at the Sutton Music Festival at Holy Trinity Church Wallington SM6 8BL, (for your satnav) in two categories.

At 4.30pm we will be the secular class and we will be singing Tequila Samba and Fix You.

6.40pm  will see us in the sacred class singing Mozart’s Ave Varum and Christus Factus Est by Bruckner.

Entry is free to anyone who wants to come and enjoy us or support us.



11 November 2015


On 11 November we celebrated all those from The John Fisher School who have gone on lead a life in the Church; Fr James Cadman, Fr Mark Higgins and Fr Matthew O’Gorman  are three former students who this year were ordained to the priesthood.  We were very touched that Fr James traveled down from Manchester to join us for the evening.  Our very special guest was Keith Ockenden, who was our faithful Sacristan for over 50 years.

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We opened with the whole congregation singing the school hymn together.  The full choir of students, parents and friends then sang Stanford’s Magnificat in C and Nunc Dimittis

Countless settings of these prayers, prayers of Mary and Simeon have been written throughout history. Stanford’s setting in C is one of the most famous, being a cornerstone in the repertoire of all Cathedral choirs. Both texts are taken from St. Luke’s Gospel – the words of the Magnificat are sung by Mary in thanks to God for his help and guidance at the Visitation and the Song of Simeon (Nunc Dimittis) was sung by Simeon when he first saw Jesus, after he was promised by the holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah.

The prayer of St Richard of Chichester is in our school prayer book and was sung by the junior choir.  Composed in the same year that Keith Ockenden started the school, this piece uses the words that St. Richard said on his deathbed. He was the Bishop of Chichester but lived a very modest life,  living in humble quarters and eating simple food. This prayer is commonly used in ordinations and confirmation services within the Church.

The Parents and friends choir then followed singing Himmel’s Inclina ad me.  The text of this piece comes from Psalm 30 and calls on the Lord to listen to our pleas and guide us on his religious path. The rest of the Psalm, which hasn’t been set to music by Himmel, talks of how the Lord has always been there for the author and how God has   always supported them.They followed this with Walford Davies’ God Be In My Head.  This humble poem was adapted from text found in Luke’s Gospel. It simply speaks of our need to have the influence of God in all of the aspects of our lives, especially at our departing from this world.

Next was the Chapel Choir singing Bruckner’s Christus Factus Est, taken from St Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians and  used during Eastertide to show the sacrifice that Christ made for us. Along with this piece, Bruckner wrote “Through this emotive music, I have tried to humanise the experience that Christ went through for us in order to persuade all Christians to follow his example of sacrifice.”.  This was followed by the Satff Choir singing Wesley’s Lead Me Lord and Mozart’s Ave Varum.


The string players from the Chamber Orchestra treated us to a selection from Handel’s Music for the Royal FIreworks.  This music was commissioned by George II in 1749 to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle with Austria. The celebratory nature of this piece is also very suitable for this evening as we recognise the vocations accepted by members of our school.

The Chapel choir sung The Lamb, by Tavener and Stopford’s Jesus and the Apple Tree.  The Lamb is a poem written by William Blake in 1789 as part of a collection of poems known of ‘Songs of Innocence’. The Lamb symbolises the meekness, gentleness and peacefulness of Christ and the piece is particularly fitting as it is a favourite of several of old boys who have now been ordained into the priesthood, as well as Mr Hawkes from St Elphege’s school, another old boy who was with us on the night.


Jesus and the Apple Tree highlights the importance of our need to trust in Christ and follow his teachings. Through comparing him to an apple tree, the text refers to Jesus as our spiritual nourishment . Also, this piece is a tribute to the ground on which this Chapel was built – whilst Keith Ockenden and many others were still at school, there was an orchard on the school site until the building of the Chapel in 1958.

Our final choir piece, O Thou, The Central Orb is based on a poem by H. R. Bramley.  In this poem, Jesus is symbolised as our only hope and saviour but also as our King and light in troubled times.  Through this, we hope to convey not only the necessity we have to trust in God but also the sense of celebration and pride we have as a school for all those who have been called to service in Christ’s priesthood.

To finish, again, the congregation joined us as we took the roof off  to Jerusalem.

Mrs Curzon kindly said a few works of thanks and recognised the commitment of all those who had taken part in the concert, the preparation is no mean feat.

Finally our four esteemed guests had their photo taken with the choir before we enjoyed refreshments in the Sixth Form centre, provided by some of our very generous parents

.            Better

The choir with, from left to right, Fr Mark Higgins, Keith Ockenden, Fr Matthew O’Gorman and Fr James Cadman