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Lessons at Christmas - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Lessons at Christmas
A wee gift, for all of you and specially for Penny, Femme, Noe, Bubba, Brammers, Shezan, Vaysh, Tiger, Kitty, T&L, Darry, the RSM - well, actually, all of you. Happy Christmas.

[Lessons at Christmas]

Lessons at Christmas


GMW Wemyss


Of all those seated in the – rather unfortunate and damnably uncomfortable, if historic – pews of the Chapel of the College of Our Lady, SS Wilfrid and Oswald, and the Venerable Bede of the founding of Master Blaise of Northumbria, in the University of Domdaniel, Hermione, Lady Weasley (or, rather, and insistently, Dr Granger) was the least comfortable – and the least comforted. She loved music: well enough, commonly, to go even to church to hear it; and she dearly loved her son Hugo, magimusicologist though he was. And this was a Very Important Day for Hugo, she knew. If only the whole thing weren’t so, well, churchly – indeed, churchy.

Lee Jordan, DG of the WWN, was far too busy to notice that he and his were very nearly as uncomfortable. Of all the events of Christmastide, the Service Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is the best-loved by the listening public, and the most vexing to the WWN who must spellcast it. And woe betide them if anything goes awry….

And today, of course, was specially nerve-torturing. It was, after all, Hugo Weasley’s Very Important Day.

Of all those involved in the service, only his Uncle Harry was as imperturbable and wholly unperturbed as was Hugo – although Stewart and Orla Ackerley’s owlish son Hubert Henry Ackerley, the Father Willis Hydraulis-and-Organon Scholar, ran his hero Hugo a close second.

Nervous or eager or calm or resigned, WWN crew or anxious parent, don, Wizard at home or Witch with a win in the lottery for a seat in the nave, all were in their places and time waited no longer upon them.

All across the Three Kingdoms and abroad on the Overseas Service, the pips were heard.

‘This is the WWN. It is Christmas Eve, and we are spellcasting from Hogsmeade: indeed, from the Blaise College Chapel of the University of Domdaniel. As on each Christmas Eve of peacetime, since the First Restoration in 1660, we are privileged to bring you the Service Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from Blaise.

‘I’m Alaric Dunstable. With me this afternoon for this spellcast is Barbara Celerant; we are joined by the team of so many Choral Evensong spellcasts, Oswy Marwick, Cicely Frome, and Fulvius Wandwright. Barbara, this is rather a significant year for Lessons and Carols from Blaise, is it not?’

‘Indeed it is, Alaric. The celebrated Hugo Weasley was commissioned last year to write for the service, by the then Director of Music here at Blaise, the distinguished and much-missed Æneas Struan. Dr Struan died in February; and Hugo Weasley succeeded him as Director of Music in March. So this is to be his début both as a composer for this august service, although of course he is a well-known and prolific composer in any case, and as Director of Music and conductor here. The Father Willis Scholar, HH Ackerley, shall be at the organon.

‘Now, particularly for overseas listeners, let’s have Flavius give us an overview of this service.’

‘Thank you, Barbara. The Service Festival in its current form is the result of much revision at the hands of the – at the time – two Hufflepuff Seventh Years, Edward White Benson and George Walpole, who went into the Church on its Muggle side afterward, Benson as the first bishop of Truro and then as Archbishop of Canterbury – the Muggle primate, ranking with, in Wizarding terms, the Bishop of Salisbury – and Walpole as Bishop of Edinburgh. Archbishop Benson, when at Truro – where, whilst the cathedral was being run up, he celebrated divine service in a wooden shed – brought a version of this service to the Muggles….’

It was 3.4 pm. Kettles were on; kitchens, busy; and the wireless tuned to WWN, all over the realm.

‘… and now, before the service bell and the service, a touch of Yarkhill Doubles.’

The clear, cobalt skies over Hogsmeade rang with the sound of bells. Hearts in British Wizardom, believing and unbelieving alike, were uplifted by the old familiar sound, the changeless changes rung: sursum corda.

The service bell tolled; and the WWN spellcast switched over to the high resounding nave of Blaise College Chapel.

Hubert Henry Ackerley stretched forth his hands to Father Willis’ great baroque-inspired organon, and, wand in sleeve, began. The Prelude and Fugue in C major BWV 553, JS Bach; his Fantasia in G major BWV 572; the Variations on an air of Musidora Barkwith (‘The shepherd at the angel marvelled’), composed by Stod’s sister Lady Glandria Withers; Buxtehude, the Præludium (and fugue) in C Major BuxWV 136; Hugo’s own variations on Tallis’ first setting of Veni Redemptor; and the great Bach Pastorale in F major BWV 590.

The Hogwarts choristers and those of Blaise College, in slovenly pomp, processed to their places; and the boy treble told off for the solo just an hour before, Peregrine Carmichael, uplifted his pure voice.

Once in royal Merlin’s city,

Where the Thorn from far away now blooms,

Builded high for Arthur and his kingdom,

Tow’ring o’er the level and the combes,

Was the Cross raised fair and high,

Gold against old Albion’s fair sky.

The choir swelled, joining in the second verse, and, although those present at Chapel should not join in until the third and after verses, Witches and Wizards listening at home found themselves, even as they marvelled at Hugo’s new descant, at once startling and right, new as morning and ancient as magic, already singing or humming along:

Wizards all and those who know not magic,

Own one God and Lord of all,

Born ’midst beasts in a rock-hewn stable,

He whose cradle was a stall;

With the poor, and mean, and lowly,

Lived on earth our Saviour holy….

The Dean, grave and merry at once as ever, old Magnus Isbister, gave out the bidding prayer.

‘Belovèd in Christ, be it this Christmas Eve our care and delight to prepare ourselves to hear again the message of the angels; in heart and mind to Apparate even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass, and the Babe lying in a manger.

‘Let us read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience unto the glorious Redemption brought us by this Holy Child; and let us make this Chapel, dedicated to Mary, his most blessèd Mother, glad with our carols of praise.

‘But first let us pray for the needs of his whole world, Muggle and Magical, Wizards and Beings alike; for peace and goodwill over all the earth; for unity and brotherhood within the Church he came to build, and especially in the dominions of our gracious Sovereign, within this University of Domdaniel and Royal Burgh of Hogsmeade, and in the two Wizarding Foundations here and at Hogwarts:

‘And because this of all things would rejoice his heart, let us at this time remember in his name the poor and the helpless, the cold, the hungry and the oppressed; the sick in body and in mind, those hexed and them that mourn; the lonely and the unloved; the agèd and the little children; all who know not the Lord Jesus, or who love him not, or who by sin have grieved his heart of love.

‘Lastly let us remember before God all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore and in a greater light, that multitude which no man can number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom, in this Lord Jesus, we for evermore are one.

‘These prayers and praises let us humbly offer up to the throne of heaven, in the words which Christ himself hath taught us:

‘Our Father….’

Hermione busied her mind, very quickly, with maternal worries, rather than attend to this superstitious mummery.

‘The Almighty God,’ said the Dean, ‘bless us with his grace: Christ give us the joys of everlasting life: and unto the fellowship of the citizens above may the King of Angels bring us all.’

The rubric called for all to say, ‘Amen’; most did, and Hermione carefully made certain that neither Ron nor Molly should observe her resolute silence. Had she believed in a deity, she should have thanked him that the music followed once more, the carol, ‘Let mages marvel at the sight’.

Lee Jordan was alert. It was time for the First Lesson, read, as ever, by a Hogwarts chorister, whose sound level might well want immediate adjustment. Slytherin Chaser and Sixth Year baritone, Martin Muggleton was made, though, of stern stuff, as Chasers will be, and as one must be to have made it through Slytherin with that surname.

‘God tells sinful Adam that he has lost the life of Paradise and that his seed will bruise the serpent’s head. Genesis, 3.’

Draco was sunk in thought.

‘And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.’

Harry, a picture of calm in Number 1 Dress Uniform, was thinking also: of old battles long ago, and of his mother, Lily.

‘And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. And unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

‘Thanks be to God.’

The carols followed, like promises of hope:

The crystal spheres of diamond make

and adamant are shattered now

As he who made them enters in

to rescue those entrapped by sin


Adam, Arthur, Merlin, we: all bound by shackles forged.

Hermione willed herself to suffer the mummery for the sake of the music.

Huw Davies, as Choral Scholar of Blaise, took the Second Lesson.

‘God promises to faithful Abraham that in his seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Genesis, 22.’

Listening at home – like Hermione, for the music, but, for other reasons, without the precise disbelief – Tony and Eleanor Goldstein exchanged a wry glance.

‘And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

‘Thanks be to God.’

Ron was not the Ron of his rash youth: he was a Very Senior Officer of Aurors indeed, now, and a father. The two carols that followed struck a chord in him that was different to the striking chords his lady wife heard and approved, musically:

Stooping low in this world’s mire,

which he hath made and we have marred,

He comes to conquer – not with arms,

and wandless: God, a little child;


Unto a stable low and mean….

Scorp and Al, watching Draco surreptitiously and Ron as well, could sense without want of Legilimency that both were thinking of the Burrow, and the blessings of poverty with love over luxury and power without a heart.

Now the minister of Hogsmeade High Kirk, Dr Ian Comyn-Craufurd, as representing the churches and centres of worship of the Aye Leal Toun, the Burgh of Regality of Hogsmeade, read the Third Lesson, in measured Highland sibilance.

‘The prophet foretells the coming of the Saviour. Isaiah, 9.’

‘The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.’

Hermione could hardly help but attend to this; but she took refuge in thinking of its applicability to the Order’s famous struggles, and hearing in it the ghost of Handel’s music.

‘Thanks be to God.’

And now it was specially Hugo’s moment, and his mother leant forward a trifle to hear it perfectly, the commissioned carol that had won him in turn his present place, ‘A Wiltshire Carol’ – and what Malfoy made of that, she could only imagine.

Said the White Horse on the hillside,

‘Whither goest, Brother Ox?’

Brother Thomas made him answer:

‘Lo, the shepherds leave their flocks;

Brother Francis, in his stable,

Sad of eye and long of ear,

He hath hailed me; I go thither,

To a new light, pure and clear.’

The grey donkey, Brother Francis,

Patient as henge, hill, or star,

Waited Thomas, best of oxen,

By the Bethl’em manger far;

Ox and ass were called together

To stand witness to the Birth

That should save the world from weeping,

And turn sadness into mirth;

Water-meadow, plain, and hillside,

And the pinfold for the sheep,

Were deserted on this still night

Whilst the mighty were asleep:

Ox and ass and wise-eyed wether,

Humble shepherds, lowly men,

With their sheepdogs and the angels

Flocked to sacred Bethlehem:

Only on the great green hillside

Did the White Horse in his pride

Fail to heed the Saviour’s calling

And in selfish dreams abide.

Brother Francis, Brother Thomas,

Angels, shepherds, sheepdogs, sheep,

Kept the sacred watch unsleeping

Which the White Horse would not keep.

Long ago now was that midnight

And for quite as long hath he,

The proud horse upon the chalk downs,

Paid his living penalty:

Turned to chalk upon the hillside,

Nevermore to freely walk,

All for that he would not heed them

That had called him from the chalk;

Thus the White Horse on the hillside;

Thus the doom that Gabriel,

Herald of the King of Heaven,

Gave out, and it so befell:

All are called; if few are chosen,

Who have chosen not to heed

Have their own ill choices taken,

Spurning help amidst their need.

Patient donkeys, patient oxen,

Bearers of the lightened load,

In each stable and each meadow

Keep the grace of that abode

That once sheltered in their presence

Heaven’s King, come down to save,

Whilst the chalk horse on the hillside

No more runs than in the grave.

Answer always we when beckoned,

Lest we know the chalk-horse fate;

Follow we the stars and angels

To the narrow, open gate.

Freedom on the Downs is worthy;

Service is the greater right:

The yoke of God is passing easy

Who alone makes burdens light.

The ‘Hogsmeade Carol’ followed, in sonorous Scots, to a new setting of Hugo’s own: ‘Sall angellis and kingis aye’…. Hermione was quite pleased. For Hugo. And with the music. Pity it’s all bound up in this deluded piety, thought she, but, there, surely he shall have further commissions to better occasions.

Knowing her of old, the Fat Friar – Brother Thomas of Bungay – caught the equally longsuffering eyes of Fr Brooke-Bullen and the Rector of Evelake far, Dr Vickers.

But it was time now for all to join in one of the best-loved hymns of a Wizarding Christmas: one that Draco had heard all his life and only in his maturity finally understood.

God rest you merry, hippogriffs,

And gentle you enow,

To make a kingdom of God’s peace

With Aethonans at plough,

For innocence and pow’r are yoked

By Christ’s commandment now:

O tidings of comfort and joy….

The Fourth Lesson, now, and the Provost of the Burgh, dear old Flitwick in succession to the much-lamented Aberforth Dumbledore.

‘The peace that Christ will bring is foreshown. Isaiah, 11.

‘And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots: and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord. With righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.’

Minerva, who recalled basilisk and cockatrice, nodded imperceptibly to herself, listening at home: the weather was too much for her, these days. There’s nae path tae hurtless peace but knowledge, aye….

‘Thanks be to God.’

The carols caught the theme: ‘Pax æterna’ in its canon; and,

The blown rose in the hedgerow now

In this Midwinter Spring….

And now, to Hermione’s carefully dissimulated exasperation – not careful enough: Harry, as ever, was alert to it – it fell to Hugo ex officio to read the Fifth Lesson: one that Molly was always most moved by; and that caused Harry and Draco to think, not of Lily and Cis, but of Ginny and Aster, upon that other shore and in that other light; and that caused Teddy’s throat to catch as he clasped his Gran’s and Great Aunt Cissy’s hands.

‘The angel Gabriel salutes the Blessed Virgin Mary. Luke, 1.

‘And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

‘Thanks be to God.’

Absurd, thought Hermione, mutinously. The usual myth, and hardly unique. At least there was now to be music again: ‘O Lady bright and virgin, fair, who beareth God as man’, and, ‘Nor womb nor stable nor this world can compass thee, o God’.

The Chaplain, Dr Marchbanks, young and keen, yet already with the presence to impose decorous gravity even upon the young Witches and Gentlewizards of the College, gathered the congregation with his imperious eye for the Sixth Lesson.

‘St Luke tells of the birth of Jesus. Luke, 2.’

Harry, as General Auror Commanding and Chief of the Magical General Staff, carefully did not look over towards Kingsley: he and the Minister both tended to agree with the Dear and Glorious Physician that government (and taxation, and snooping by the one in the pursuit of the other) was at best a necessary evil, and a case of felix culpa, that did good only by inadvertence.

‘And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

‘Thanks be to God.’

And the carols also, plangent and sweet, elaborated that theme: ‘Dormi, Jesu! Mater ridet’, and,

Alleluia! Joyous news

Bring we to man today….

The Seventh Lesson fell to the Vice-Chancellor: specifically, to Neville. Lee retrebled his efforts to assure that no unseemly fault appeared in the spellcast. He needn’t have worried: Nev’s rich, warm, homely tones went through sweetly as a nut.

‘The shepherds go to the manger. Luke, 2.

‘And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

‘Thanks be to God.’

In the divine economy, all times and places are one, Bethlehem and Pendle together. The carol was as homely and comfortable: ‘The shepherd at the angel marvelled’. Then all present, and many indeed of those listening to the wireless, joined in the old hymn new-arranged by Hugo:

While Magi scryed the stars by night,

For omens bright or dire,

The angel of the Lord came down,

Clothed in celestial fire.

Jamie, in the Mess with his brother officers, in the lines of Dehra Dun, and Lils encamped at Tell Abraq, listened intently now; as Lee and all who answered to him tensed. The Eighth Lesson was to be read by the CMGS and General Auror Commanding, girded with the Sword of Gryffindor and with his wand in his hand, exercising the Auroral aspect of the Crown’s prerogative as had been the Crown’s prerogative since Alfred’s day. Harry, of course, would not cut up rough – nor in turn should Kingsley – were something to go wrong with the spellcast, but the Great Wizarding Public damned well should do; and above all things, the WWN and its Director-General did not care to have Harry be forgiving of them and be making kindly allowances.

Harry strode to the great, massy, brass hippogriff lectern, carefully not winking at Dud where he sat with Harriet and Simon and Dame Elspeth and Young Artful. Hermione did not even bother to sigh to herself: how Harry could lend himself to this nonsense … but he wore the Auroral virtues and pieties and conventions like his very uniform, she knew.

‘The wise men are led by the star to Jesus. Matthew, 2.’

He was coming through perfectly. Lee, not without a brief memory, of hallucinatory clarity, of the Potterwatch days, relaxed so far as he ever did on these occasions.

Harry read on, as crisp as upon parade, and as approving of the operational art of the Magi as any senior officer of Aurors.

‘Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judæa: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

‘Thanks be to God.’

George grinned at him as he resumed his seat. Clever buggers, those Magi; excellent tactical awareness, always having a line of retreat…. Rose and her various cousins not surnamed Potter were as devoid of religious inclination as was Hermione; but they also caught the lesson of the lesson, and of the carols that followed, the lesson their parents and uncles and aunts had learnt in a hard school consule Fudge, and Scrimgeour, and Thicknesse. Put not your trust in princes….

The carols rose:

Royal wizards with their gifts

            the hard and lonely way

In stark midwinter travelled far

            at God’s feet them to lay;


Herod’s rages ’gainst a Lord

Who brought not peace, but wand and sword,

Were nothing worth: the gates of Hell

Were conquered ere they ever fell.

And now Kingsley was up, for the Ninth, the final, Lesson, the Crown’s civil prerogative in Wizardom, exercised ministerially vice the Sovereign:

‘St John unfolds the great mystery of the Incarnation. John, 1.

‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light. That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

‘Thanks be to God.’

Teddy, scholar that he was, reflected upon this truth. It is not in Moot debates, but in casting, that all things begin with a Word….

The congregation – in the Chapel and in many homes where the wireless was on – joined in the hymn, ‘Adore the light all suns outshining’; and then the Dean rose once more.

‘The Lord be with you.’

‘And with thy spirit’, replied the congregation, Harry’s baritone, and Ron’s, firm enough, and Kingsley’s basso strong enough, to mask Hermione’s discreet silence as she let her hair swing forward to obscure her dissent.

‘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.’


‘Christ, who by his incarnation gathered into one things earthly and heavenly, grant you the fullness of inward peace and goodwill, and make you partakers of the divine nature; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always.’


Lee raised his eyebrow at the team, his signal that the first round was on him, after a successful day; dismissing them as he alone held the wards for the culmination of the spellcast, which, as it always began with ‘Once in royal Merlin’s city’, ended as it ever did with the hymn in which almost all present and most of those listening from afar irresistibly joined, ‘Hark! The herald mages sing’.

The Dean and the choristers recessed; the congregants kept their pews in silence as HH Ackerley, exulting in innocent triumph, after a perfect service, and exulting in the shy pleasure and no little relief on his friend Hugo’s face, poured himself into the postludes: the Postlude for organ in D minor, Sir Charles Villiers Stanford; Alberti’s Herr Gott, dich loben wir; the new Hodie from Wagtail; the Fantasia Chromatica of Jan Pietersz Sweelinck, and John Bull’s responding Variations on a Dutch chorale; the Voluntary no. 1, by Weelkes; and in crown and culmination, Buxtehude’s In dulci jubilo BuxWV 197.

Throughout the Three Kingdoms, and overseas, Witches and Wizards felt that Christmas had properly begun. The congregation dispersed, happy and full of praise for Hugo’s début. In the evenfall, clouds gathered, promising snow.

Well, thought Hermione. At least that’s done. She was very proud of Hugo, and said so; but the relief in her voice at having all that ecclesiastical nonsense done and dusted could not wholly be hidden from those who knew her well enough to know her mind.

Hugo winked at Ron and Uncle Harry, kissed his mum, and cocked his head towards Al and Scorp, Teddy, and HH Ackerley. The pub called them.

Christmas was here at last.

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12 comments or Leave a comment
germankitty From: germankitty Date: December 23rd, 2012 10:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

Quite unusual for me, as my own Christmas service has a slightly different form, but I love the traditions (and the fact that on Christmas Eve, the singing for once is full-throated and -bodied).

Maybe I'll even make it to Church tomorrow night, after several years' absence. And if not -- this is a wonderful substitute to at least catch the spirit of the night. :)

A very Merry Christmas to you and yours!
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 28th, 2012 06:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

And to you.
eglantine_br From: eglantine_br Date: December 23rd, 2012 11:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
It feels real. And I particularly like the way you give us everyone's thoughts.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 28th, 2012 06:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

Although 'thoughts' may be too kind....
elmyraemilie From: elmyraemilie Date: December 23rd, 2012 11:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Merry Christmas to you as well.

(And I would dearly love to hear that piece by Wagtail.)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 28th, 2012 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

As shd we all.

Thank you; and a happy Christmas season to you.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: December 23rd, 2012 11:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful antidote to all the cheesy holiday pop on the radio this time of year! I will be rereading ths often!
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 28th, 2012 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

And then there's the weather to bemoan as well....
nursedarry From: nursedarry Date: December 24th, 2012 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)
I love all the differing thoughts and views throughout the service. Though not sure what to think about my own belief system when "the pub" resonates the most strongly for me ;) Thank you for such a lovely gift and all best to you and yours.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 28th, 2012 06:49 pm (UTC) (Link)

Nothing wrong with a pint.

Thank you; and I trust yours is also going well (with this weather, I shan't say, 'swimmingly'...).
matilda36 From: matilda36 Date: December 24th, 2012 05:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Now I can really feel the Christmas spirit. Merry Christmas to you!
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 28th, 2012 06:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ho, ho, and All That.

And to you, thank you.
12 comments or Leave a comment