Belfast Telegraph

Watch: The Priests lead Christmas carols at Belfast city centre church's crib

 

By David Young

More than 100 people crowded into the Nativity Crib in Belfast's Chapel Lane on Sunday night to hear The Priests deliver a joyful a cappella performance of Christmas songs.

It was the first time the popular singers had visited the crib, which has been staged in St Mary's Church for the past seven years.

As they waited for the stars, parishioners dressed as Mary and Joseph joined parents, children and passers-by in singing Christmas carols and petting the donkeys and sheep in the specially-constructed crib.

Volunteers distributed candles and prayer cards for the audience, while Padraig O Cuinneagain sang Oiche Chiuin (Silent Night).

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More than 100 people crowded into the Nativity Crib in Belfast's Chapel Lane last night to hear The Priests deliver a joyful a cappella performance of Christmas songs

Among those who watched enthralled was Eimear Blake Kelly, who had travelled from Dundalk with her little daughter Thea.

"It's just lovely," she said. "We come here every year. I wouldn't miss it for the world."

The Priests - brothers Fr Eugene and Fr Martin O'Hagan, and Fr David Delargy - arrived at the crib directly from singing for residents at the Northern Ireland Hospice.

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Sporting festive Santa hats and tapping a small bodhran, they immediately launched into a host of seasonal songs, beginning with Gaudete, Christus est natus.

Their strong, clear voices in harmony carried far across the narrow street in the chill night air as they ranged through favourites including Away In A Manger, Silent Night, In Dulci Jubilo, Ding Dong Merrily On High, O Holy Night and We Wish You A Merry Christmas.

As they gathered themselves to sing O Come All Ye Faithful, the evening Angelus began to peal from the church's belltower, and The Priests switched instantly into a numinous rendition of the Ave Maria.

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More than 100 people crowded into the Nativity Crib in Belfast's Chapel Lane last night to hear The Priests deliver a joyful a cappella performance of Christmas songs

Looking on was Marguerite O'Kane with her grandson Aidan, who had dressed up as a shepherd to take part in this year's crib.

"The Priests were fantastic, and the crib is brilliant," she said.

Aidan and Marguerite had both come from Lurgan to be part of the event.

Marguerite added: "He was here last year too, and at the Epiphany.

"He just talked about it all year, 'When are we going back granny?' - he loves it.

"You couldn't buy an experience like this. You just couldn't."

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The Priests at the Nativity Crib at Chapel Lane

Pat Corrigan from Belfast said: "I thought it was absolutely wonderful. It's just so beautiful,

"Everybody gets fed up with the bustle of shopping, and we all want to know what really the true message of Christmas is.

"We come to the crib and we always get a bit of craic and a bit of joy, and that's what Christmas is all about, isn't it?

"Tonight The Priests brought so much joy, they've given so much of themselves, so much of their time."

Fr Delargy, spoke to the Belfast Telegraph after the trio's rousing finale, We Wish You A Merry Christmas.

"It's my first time to visit the live crib," he explained.

"I know it's been going on here for a few years, but it's the first time I've been able to get down and visit it.

"It's been lovely to have this gathering of people here to sing some carols and help bring a little bit of festive atmosphere to this corner of the city."

The crib will be open until January 6.

Entrance is free and donations are invited, which will go towards helping children in war-torn countries.

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