15 December, 2019

Sustaining their proud tradition of over 150 years, the senior choir of S. Thomas College presented their festival of nine lessons and carols at the Chapel of the Transfiguration. The annual event took place on December 1. The seasoned choristers mounted the chapel steps led by the sacristans. In keeping with Anglican tradition as the cross was brought to the West door the congregation stood in silence. The boys sang their processional hymn Once in Royal David’s city- the procession moved on towards the main altar. The officiating clergy were Rev. Marc Billimoria (Warden of STC) , Rev. Roshan Mendis (College Chaplain and Counselor), Rev. Samuel Ponniah (Archdeacon of Jaffna) and His Eminence Rt. Rev. Dhiloraj Canagasabey (Anglican Bishop of Colombo).

The Chapel of the Transfiguration is the heart of STC. The magnificent edifice is the foundation of the carol service. Inside is the famous painting of the transfiguration by the artist David Paynter done in 1968. The Thomian choir first sang on September 21, 1854. The chapel was blessed with a Hammond Organ in 1938.One of the inspiring spiritual renditions by the choir this year was the old Latin hymn Angelus Ad Virginem.

The choir must be commended for mastering not only the melody but learning the Latin pronunciation of this 14th century hymn. Another touching feature this year was the beautiful tribute sung to the late Vinodh Senadeera, Presentor of the Chapel and Choir Master for many years. His sudden demise in January this year was remembered by the singing of the song The Shepherds Farewell written by Hector Berlioz.

The ninth and final lesson of this service is always read by the presiding Bishop. Once again in keeping with their ceremonial pomp the sacristans came to the Bishops seat and duly escorted him to the main altar. This is probably the most visually stunning segment of the service for many. The prudent Bishop read from the Gospel of St. John. The Thomian carols concluded with the singing of O come all ye faithful. Another remarkable feature is how the boys in the hostel rally together and light up the college quadrangle with oil lamps in long lines, and forming the initials STC. This amazing display of brotherhood and team work using more than 1000 oil lamps has been done for a century at Mount Lavinia. It was refreshing to catch up with old school friends and Anglican clergy. The STC choir has once again dazzled us with their brilliant vocal harmony and set the tone for a jubilant Christmas.