During the ceremonies surrounding the Queen’s funeral, eagle-eyed TV viewers spotted an unusual figure among the robed members of the choir: a man sporting a beard and turban, unmistakably a Sikh.
So what is it that draws people from other faiths – Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, even Muslims and Jews – to sing in church choirs, including for carol services and at Christmas? Do they have any qualms about singing words that express specifically Christian ideas, for example referring to Jesus as the Son of God? Or do they feel inspired by the words, ideas and tunes of Christmas carols despite or even because of their own faith background?
In this festive podcast, Zubeida Malik meets choral singers from other faiths during their Christmas rehearsals to find out. She talks to two Muslim boys, Zack and Solomon, and their father Raveem; Krishnan, who’s from a mixed Hindu and Christian background; Kwankaew, a Buddhist from Thailand; and Sophie, who is Jewish. Each one has their own reasons for singing in a Christian choir – and each has found their own way of reconciling their own faith with their involvement in Christian worship.
Zubeida also hears from the Rev Lucy Winkett, Rector at St James’s church, Piccadilly, who adds her own thoughts about why singing at Christmas is so much more than expressing ideas about the birth of Christ.
And of course we’ll hear some amazing singing, including from the choir of Pembroke College Oxford and the Manchester’s Heartedge Choral Scholars.
A lovely twist on Christmas music.