Sunday, December 24, 2006
Carols by Candlelight in Melbourne
We are watching the Carols by Candlelight in the TV from the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne, a strong tradition every 24th December. It's cool tonight so we aren't going to the Geelong Carols. Cool? Yes, they say there may be snow in the mountains so that might put out the bushfires!
The Carols program is mainly geared to families with young children and quite often some of the items do seem far away from the Christmas story, such as Pluckaduck!
A tradition is born
The inspiration for Carols by Candlelight® was born one Christmas Eve in 1937, as radio veteran, the late Norman Banks MBE, strolled along historic St Kilda Road in Melbourne after a late night radio shift.
As he walked, he noticed an elderly woman sitting up in bed by her window, her face lit only by a candle. She had a radio beside her and was singing along to the Christmas carol, “Away in a Manger”. It was at this moment that Banks was inspired to create the first gathering of people to sing carols by candlelight.
His employers, the management of 3KZ, who were sponsoring a new wing of the Austin Hospital, agreed that this dream could become a reality, but the first problem was to get the support of the City Council.
It was not easy to gain general support for the idea, and if it not been for the gracious personal interest of the Lord Mayor at the time, Cr. A.W. Coles, the sceptics would have quashed the project. Having gained the approval of the City Council, Norman Banks set to work and organised the whole program.
The first Carols
In 1938, 10,000 people gathered at midnight in the Alexandra Gardens to sing carols with a 30 strong choir, two soloists and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Band. The unusual candlelight setting, and the beauty of the carols, instantly won the affection of the large assembly. A new Christmas tradition was born.