11 October; St Josephs Lower Primary School, Kumbalanghi

Posted: 14 October 2017

No matter to which school I go in Kerala and, no matter the age of the children, two things are always the same; the warm excited welcome I receive from the children and staff and the smiling faces of the children, all eager to sing and learn new songs. 

     St Joseph’s LP School is set within the grounds of St Joseph’s Church in a quiet Ernakulam suburb and caters for about 40 children aged from 4/5 up to 10. I was working with a middle school class of 7/8 year olds who had, so Mary Jacqueline the headmistress told me, been looking forward to my visit for weeks. 

     ‘They are very excited that such a famous singer is coming to their school,’ she told me.
     ‘You must let me know when he is coming,’ I replied. ‘I would like to hear him too.’
     A puzzled look came over her face before breaking into a smile. ‘Ah. You are making a joke,’ she said.
     ‘Almost,’ I replied. 

     The children at St Joseph’s, as I have found everywhere, were amazing. Coulter’s Candy had been such a success I thought it might be worth trying something else in Scots and for that I turned to Matt McGinn’s ‘Coorie Doon’.
     Mary Jacqueline helped me explain that it was a lullaby being sung by a mother to her child while the child’s father was working in a coal mine. The children sang it beautifully and seemed to understand the beautiful poignancy of the verse;

    Your daddy coories doon, wee darling,
    Doon in a three foot seam.
    So you can coorie doon, wee darling,
    Coorie doon and dream.

     ‘Could you please do me a favour?’ Mary Jacqueline asked me.
     ‘If I can.’
     ‘Could you please teach the children ‘Silent Night’. We always sing it a Christmas and next time they sing it, it will remind of you.’
     How could I refuse. And so in a temperature of about 35 degrees centigrade, in India, in the middle of October, we began to learn and sing ‘Silent Night’. One of my most surreal experiences? Oh yes, definitely. One of the most beautiful too. 

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