A Christmas Eve Poem: Children Singing in Latin

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, East Greenwich, Rhode Island*

The Inspiration

I wrote this poem several years ago after attending Christmas Eve services with my brother and his family. (I’d been away from the Church for a while.) The purity of the children’s voices singing in Latin behind me left me so awestruck I was afraid to turn around.

*from St. Luke’s Facebook Timeline, January 8, 2014

138 thoughts on “A Christmas Eve Poem: Children Singing in Latin

  1. Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. It will seem quite odd missing that annual tradition this year. I go way back as an altar boy, Liz. Thanks for this memory.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. We used to sing in Latin when I was at school at the convent. I always enjoyed Catholic services as I love the tradition and solemnness as well as the discipline and order. If I do go to church, which isn’t that often because the church doesn’t embrace some things that I believe in, then I do to a Catholic service.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you, Robbie. This was an Episcopal (Anglican) service. High Church Episcopalians would have traditions closer to Roman Catholicism; Low Church would be closer to the Methodists. (Hard to tell the players without a score care!)

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Hi, Liz. Thanks for bringing this poem back into the light. Beautifully penned and invoking such memories. Ah, those Christmas memories; adorned, in decorated churches, Christmas plays and the sound of ‘angelic’ choristers as well as the ‘not so angelic’ filling the nave.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I went to a convent school too, and most of our hymns were in Latin. I always enjoyed singing in Latin, and as a side bonus, I find myself able to understand language better because of the many Latin roots.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. It must have been beautiful. That’s a lovely church, too. It looks like it could be in an English village.
    My daughters were in concert choir and madrigals–and they also took Latin 7th-12th grades, so when they were in high school, I did hear singing in Latin! 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  6. A sense of the sacred suffuses your poem. It was never so much that Latin in itself was holy or mystical; it was that it was ancient and traditional. Until I took Latin in high school I had little idea what most words meant, but it felt sacred long before that. The seeming ambivalence of turning to see the faces of that ‘angels” choir is deeply evoked. Simply lovely, Liz.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I had sung Latin often in my younger age, Liz. I still remember singing “Gloria.” I love listening to Children’s choir of their pure, violin like voices. Enjoyed reading your poem. I surely understand your feeling. 💖

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Lovely poem, Liz ! When was the last time, I heard children singing in Latin? Well so many years ago, that I was singing with them, as part of the Montreal’s Mile-End Saint Michel’s Church / Luke Callahan School boys choir. Though so many years ago, these are experiences we never forget. I really enjoyed your post because it brought back so many old and carefree memories.
    Thank you for that !

    Liked by 2 people

  9. You’ve given us such an evocative sense of being there that I could feel chills down my spine, and I heard the voices in my head. I’ve racked my brain, and I can’t remember a time when I’ve attended this type of performance in person; but even the filmed versions I’ve watched have moved me deeply.

    In fact, thanks to this perfect Christmas Eve post (which I deliberately waited until Dec. 24 to read), I’m off to YouTube to find children singing in Latin.

    Merry Christmas, Liz.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thanks Liz.

    Wish I could have been there.

    Stay safe and warm,

    Jim Made Up Stories

    On Tue, Dec 22, 2020 at 6:24 PM Elizabeth Gauffreau wrote:

    > Liz Gauffreau posted: ” The Inspiration I wrote this poem several years > ago after attending Christmas Eve services with my brother and his family. > (I’d been away from the Church for a while.) The purity of the children’s > voices singing in Latin behind me left me so awestruc” >

    Liked by 2 people

  11. A children’s choir, singing in a church with great acoustics, is a beautiful sound. The clarity and purity of their voices is a precious sound, especially in Latin. Your poem captures that feeling, Liz.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A very beautiful poem Liz. It looks like a wonderful experience! I don’t think I have ever heard children singing in Latin. I have been in choirs where a song or two was done in Latin! I love the intensity of this poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Beautiful poem, Liz, it brings to mind the feelings of something very special that makes you want to break the rules/norms ~ such moments are beautifully rare. And nice to have your poem remind me of such feelings.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Lovely poem! Children singing in a quiet church has often brought me to tears. It is as if the angels were there leading the choir. I believe that they are. We have much to learn from children. The gifts that move us and touch our souls have so little to do with material things. Simple gifts given in the spirit of love are what matters; it could be a song, a smile when you so desperately need one, a hand that reaches out to hold your own trembling fingers in a crisis. Children instinctively know how to be ‘present’ with others. They do not need to time-travel ahead in terms of worrying about the future. Nor, do they live in the past. I am glad that writing about your brother brings you comfort…our beloveds live forever in our hearts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the poem, Linda. I greatly appreciate your thoughtful comments. It’s pretty amazing to think that all chldren really want from the adults in their lives is their time and attention, such a seemingly simple gift that’s too often hard to give.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Christmas is not just a time for festivity and merry making. It is more than that. It is a time for the contemplation of eternal things. The Christmas spirit is a spirit of giving and forgiving.” ~ J. C. Penney

    Have a wonderful Christmas and joyous days ahead with warm laughter. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

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