The most enduring memory for most, must be the wonderful singing of "Past Three O'Clock" as the singers moved away slowly at the end of the service, until the silence in the Hall was tangible, as we strained to hear the last few gently fading notes. As Christine says, "How many of us feel Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without 'Past three o'clock'. It was so atmospheric." Anne Wells (LHS 1952-58) recalls that the singers were known as "The Waits" - presumably because they had to wait outside the hall to know when to start singing!
Christine and Annette have both sent the words which are reproduced here. Thank you both, and Christine - thanks for the great idea of this page. There are various versions on the web but out of a sense of traditionalism, and in deference to Mrs Henderson's English language classes, I have reproduced the one with the abbreviation "o'clock", as in "of the clock" which is more grammatically correct than "a clock" which appears in several versions. I have also included a Youtube version, full choir, that shows the words and music instead of a video - sing along! (The Pass three o'clock that flicks through at the beginning is not my doing!)
(Refrain and first verse) Past three o’clock, And a cold frosty morning, Past three o’clock; Good morrow, masters all!
1. Born is a Baby, Gentle as may be, Son of the eternal Father supernal. Refrain.
3. Mid earth rejoices Hearing such voices Ne'ertofore so well Carolling Nowell. Refrain.
5. Cheese from the dairy Bring they for Mary And, not for money, Butter and honey. Refrain.
7. Myrrh from full coffer, Incense they offer; Nor is the golden Nugget withholden. Refrain.
2. Seraph quire singeth, Angel bell ringeth; Hark how they rime it, Time it and chime it. Refrain.
4. Hinds o'er the pearly, Dewy lawn early Seek the high Stranger Laid in the manger. Refrain.
6. Light out of star-land Leadeth from far land Princes, to meet him, Worship and greet him. Refrain.
8. Thus they: I pray you, Up, sirs, nor stay you Till ye confess him Likewise and bless him. Refrain
Past Three O'Clock
Sue's memories of the Carol Service
Those of us who were fortunate enough to attend LHS when Miss James was head of music will remember those wonderful services that she organised. (Miss James' own comment about them is below) They were held, mostly, in complete darkness with a tableaux style nativity of 5 or 6 scenes (can't remember exactly) that interspersed the French and German carols memorised to sing in darkness (one by each year). Once the first year class was selected, participation in the tableaux was entirely dependent on one's ability to fit the fabulous costumes! The only active section was as the Kings, with their Page, processed slowly to the stage from the main doors at the other end. Prayers and readings were lit only at the lectern, and the lights only came up for the carols that were sung by everyone. It was so lovely, and, of course, finished with Past 3 O'Clock fading into the distance. I believe that this particular tradition began with Miss James' service in 1940. I remember the glorious 2 part descant to "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear", sung by upper and lower 6th. I still like to sing it now (in the privacy of my own home!) but it doesn't always go with the accompaniment on the CD unfortunately (not that I'm put off by that). If anyone knows who wrote that version of the music and descants I'd love to know, please.
I can remember one of our French carols - "Entre le boeuf et l'ane gris, dors, dors, dors le petit fils. Mille anges divins, mille séraphins. Volent à l'entour de ce grand Dieu d'amour. Entre les pastoureaux jolis, dors, dors, dors le petit fils: Mille anges divins, mille séraphins, Volent à l'entour de ce grand Dieu d'amour. (I have checked online and discovered that we only sang verses 1 and 3 of a 4 verse traditional French carol, writer unknown)
Can anyone else remember their memorised foreign carol? - Please send yours to me - I have already received some (below) which you can enlarge by clicking.
I would love to hear your other memories of Christmas at Loughton High. Asking about those who actually sang Past 3 O'Clock, I have been told that they walked slowly towards the entrance hall and turned left towards the staff room stairs. From there, memories seem to become fuzzy as no-one is certain how far they went, though one girl assures me she ended up outside room 18, which was next to the cookery room, way up in the roof!
"as 1A we were the ones chosen to do the tableaux in Miss James's Nativity and I still remember processing down the hall as page to the first King"
Joan Gundy (nee Munt) - 1958-65 - also remembers Miss James' service:
carol service programme
Ein kind geborn zu Bethlehem
Song of Praise 1963
Oxford Book of Carols
Two favourite Carols
Christine Dick (nee Edwards) (LHS 1963 - 1970) sent all these photos. Her Hymn Book was signed by Miss James - see Assembly
From the school magazine 1974 a poem by Tanya Foster 1A
Cold ice Very nice Christmas Pud Smelling good Pretty decorations Happy relations Giving presents Eating pheasants Spiky holly All are jolly Frozen snow Noses glow Icy fingers Carol singers Red Nose Cold toes Snowball fights Frosty nights Carol singing Bell ringing
From the school magazine 1956 in the year of our 50th anniversary
Miss James said “ In 1940 our Christmas festival was first presented in the form in which it has now become a tradition. The simple and beautiful presentation of the Christmas story in carol and mime is a much loved feature of our school”
From the 1982 magazine which looked back over 75 years of Loughton the memories of Sylvia Tyers (nee Adams) LHS - 1945 -1952
“ I remember learning new French and German carols each year, selected by Miss Chisholm. The carol ceremony, arranged by Miss James, was a great event in the school year. I still have several of the orders of service. Much of it was sung in the dark, to give emphasis to the Nativity scenes which followed. I used to take a torch up into the Hall in case I forgot the words and dried up, which would have been very embarrassing, surrounded by hundreds of girls sitting cross legged in the middle, Old Girls and Governors on rows of chairs, supervising and watching from the sides. There was quite a magical quality about the music coming from the darkness.”
From Vanessa Harvey-Samuel’s review of the year 1972/73 as head girl -
“This year at Christmas the entrance Hall looked as magnificent as ever with wonderful decorations and the Christmas Service include a performance of one of the York Mystery plays.”
I was in 1a , and we were chosen by Miss James to do the tableaux. I was the smallest shepherd , dressed in an old sack! I had to walk up the middle of the hall, climb up the stage steps and gaze adoringly at baby Jesus in the manger - he was in fact a 100 watt bulb and made me see stars!