Report: New Parks Christmas Carol Concert, 2011

Annually during the month of December the Emmanu’-EL Apostolic Gospel Academy (EAGA) Choir are extremely busy carol singing around the county of Leicestershire and in the city of Leicester. This year has been no different, with both the adult and children’s choir carol singing, spreading the joy of Christmas. On December 8th, 2011, the EAGA Adult’s Choir travelled to LE3 to sing in front of the Aikman Avenue Shops, situated adjacent to the New Parks Centre Library, in New Parks.

Arriving at the day’s end, the community was very quiet, with only a few shops left open. Out of the 9 stores in the complex, only two were still open. Casually customers could be seen entering the local Co-operative Food, buying the necessities for the evening. From time to time a few local residents would walk by and the sound of the 94 First and 14 Arriva bus alone broke the heavy silence. A modest location, unlike the usual areas that the choir is requested to sing at, Aikman Avenue presented the choir with a challenge; to liven up the locality with songs celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

As members of the EAGA Gospel Choir arrived, some looked concerned of the location, whilst others were unsure if we had come to the right place. Once all realised that we were indeed at the correct place, we knew we had a task on our hands: to bring some activity to this inactive shopping centre.

Gratefully the S. Patrick and B. Godwin Professional Retail and Catering Butchers allowed us to use their electricity while they opened for the last couple hours, which we are ever thankful for. As the keyboard and amps were being set up a crowd of children, coming straight from the New Parks library, gathered around. In a few moments an audience of about 30 people had formed, anticipating hearing the choir sing. Speaking to a local resident, who is a complete Leicesterian to her roots, expressed that she had never heard the EAGA gospel choir before but was always moved to hear gospel music.

As the equipment was finished being set up the choir took form and began the carol singing. The usual repertoire of Christmas carols were sung by the choir, including: Joy to the World; O Come All ye Faithful; Little Donkey; hark, the Herald Angels Sing; Ding Dong Merrily on High; Jingle Bells and Silent Night. As the choir sang, passers-by stood and gazed at the choir; some admired from afar and some came to join the audience. An elderly lady in a wheelchair, accompanied by her carer, stopped in their tracks and listened to the choir from the pavement. The sound of Christmas was a fresh breeze in the New Parks area.

Children danced together and adults and child alike sang along with the choir. With arms around each other, the real meaning of Christmas was demonstrated as the choir sang; Christmas is about sharing the love that Jesus is, with family friends and even those we do not know. For the choir it is also a great time of year because no matter what the weather, we enjoy seeing the joy of Jesus Christ spread to all that hear us sing.

Closing the evening with ‘O Happy Day’, the audience burst into vigorous applause once the song was complete. The organiser of the whole evening then came and thanked the choir in the hearing all that were present. As the instruments were packed down, the EAGA Gospel Choir mingled with those who listened attentively. Such an evening encapsulates the simplicity of singing from the heart; it brings joy to others when the EAGA choir sings.