The Road to Bethlehem

20 Jan 2022

By The Record

A choir group singing at The Road to Bethlehem Christmas Concert in 2020.
The Road to Bethlehem Christmas concert was held on 2 December and 5 December 2021. Attendees were pleased and grateful for the concerts as it provided them with hope after a challenging year. Here is a photo from the previous year’s events. Photo: Max Hoh.

The meaning of Christmas resonated deeply with parishioners and guests at Claremont Parish, St Thomas the Apostle, as the parish choir held the 13th Road to Bethlehem concerts last year, on Thursday, 2 December and Sunday, 5 December.

Claremont’s annual Advent event was an opportunity to share the history behind the annual holiday, with those who may not know the story of Jesus invited to come, see, and hear the true Gospel meaning of Christmas.

Professor John Kinder, spokesperson for the Road to Bethlehem organising committee, said their aim in offering this event was to contribute to the Church’s work of evangelisation, giving people a rich Christmas experience by using music and art that depicted 2000 years of Christian tradition.

Mr Kinder believes the concerts also served a purpose by giving locals the hope they need as the world is gripped by the next wave of the pandemic.

“We hope that people can feel that they are not alone. You’re not alone in preparing your Christmas. We’re all doing it together globally in different languages and cultures. People are all preparing for Christmas in different ways, but it’s the same event,” he said.

“We want people to understand that the story of Christmas is our story, it’s for each person. I mean, Jesus was born for me, and you, and for every person, and you can understand this in a more profound, more meaningful way when you know the meaning of the Christmas story – you can understand why Jesus was born for you.

“We also believe music is a powerful way to communicate the beauty of the birth of Jesus.”

The Road to Bethlehem at St Thomas the Apostle started in 2008 through the inspiration of choir tenor Tim Burrows, who based it on the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols hosted each year by Cambridge University in England.

Nine readings tell the Old Testament stories of the fall and the prophecy of the Messiah, then the Gospel stories of the Annunciation and the events of the Christmas, finishing with the mystery of the Incarnation from the Prologue of John’s Gospel.

“In between the readings are carols – some to listen to and pray with, others to sing along with,” Mr Kinder explained.

“For each reading and each carol, a picture is projected on a large screen. The carols and the pictures are taken from many different times and countries [and different languages]. They show how the birth of Jesus became a reality for people everywhere and can become a reality for us too.

“All this 2000-year long history is our heritage, for us to discover and to enjoy.”