The Church of England has released a Christmas single, as part of a campaign encouraging people to come to church, sing carols, and celebrate the real meaning of Christmas.
The song is a new version of the time-honoured text, The First Nowell, written by renowned composer, and former King’s Singer, Bob Chilcott and will be performed by choirs up and down the country, as part of carol services and concerts for Christmas and Advent.
Our own Bradford Cathedral has recorded its own version to be broadcast on Youtube later this week and more than 3,000 people have signed up to sing the carol so far.
At the heart of the Follow the Star: Join the Song campaign is the simple message inviting everyone to attend a service near them – with thousands of local services listed on AChurchNearYou.com, the website, which allows users to locate services in their area, with tags to help users find carols, mince pies, children’s services and more.
Sheet music of the carol is also freely available for choirs wishing to perform it, together with learning tracks and individual parts and you may watch the national church’s recording here.
The Bishop of Stockport, The Rt Revd Sam Corley, said: “Singing carols is one of those traditions that helps us all get in the mood for Christmas and to think again about how our story connects with the story of God’s longing to be with us.
With familiar words set to a new tune, we hope people will enjoy joining in with the angels to sing a song of celebration as we encounter afresh the Good News of the birth of Jesus Christ.”
The Church of England’s ‘Follow The Star’ campaign was first run in 2018, and is all about encouraging more people to come to church and hear the Christmas story.
The theme for 2023 highlights how singing can help draw people closer to God and one another through the journey from Advent to Epiphany, with a wealth of free resources available for churches, schools and any context.
The campaign makes available a range of resources including daily reflections booklets, prayer cards and – for the first time – a printed Advent calendar, featuring the nativity. Much of the content is also available free via the recently update Follow the Star app.