Today’s carol is a very special one, because it is sung by a very dear friend of mine, Shakira Searle, with whom I used to sing regularly before she and her partner moved to Portland, Oregon. After that, singing regularly became a bit more of a challenging. But we still sing together in spirit, because she has a regular series of gigs at The Grotto, which is a Catholic shrine and sanctuary in Portland that sounds absolutely gorgeous, not least because of all the singing they have there during their Festival of Lights in December. And meanwhile, I, too, am singing carols and Catholic music at every possible opportunity during December, so we may be singing at different times, but we are definitely singing from the same songbook!
Given that I’m doing a bit of an Annunciation series this week, it was irresistible to use Shakira’s recording of ‘Gabriel’s Message’ (also known as ‘The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came’), recorded at the Grotto last year.
Isn’t she gorgeous? I really do miss singing with her. I’ve always loved this carol, which I first encountered in primary school (where we invariably sang ‘most highly flavoured lady’, and thought this was *hilarious*), and there are some very lovely harmonised versions of it around too (this one, by All Angels, is another favourite of mine). But I can’t help suspecting it would sound even better if one was listening to it in a candle-lit garden. If you are anywhere near Portland, I would certainly recommend this festival to your attention.
On another note, I can’t express how strange it is to see someone I have carolled with regularly performing a Christmas carol all rugged up in a woolly jumper. I know, of course, that everyone else in the world gets Christmas in winter (and it isn’t as though Melbourne Christmases are reliably hot, either), and I’m quite used to seeing other people carolling in heavy coats, but I feel a real sense of cognitive dissonance seeing Shakira carolling in what is obviously the middle of winter!