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Chorister, 86, who joined the Perth church choir at the age of six celebrates his 80th year singing to worshipers


It’s a hymn again! Chorister, 86, who joined the Perth church choir at the age of six celebrates his 80th year singing to worshipers

  • Bob MacFarlane joined the church choir at St John’s in Perth in 1941 when he was only six years old
  • The 86-year-old does not plan to retire and says it brings him happiness and joy
  • He remembers that light bulbs had tin lampshades due to a blackout in World War II










His chorus robes now cover trousers rather than shorts and the longtime sopranos have given way to rich dress, but 80 years in the choir itself hasn’t tempered Bob MacFarlane’s love of music.

The 86-year-old joined the church choir at St John’s in Perth in 1941 when he was six, and only national service and work away from home prevented him from taking his place in the stalls.

Mr. MacFarlane insists he has no plans to retire, adding: “It keeps you fit and is a great way to mingle with and get to know people with similar situations and interests. Being in the choir has brought me great company throughout my life and continues to bring me happiness and joy.

His chorus robes now cover pants instead of shorts and the longtime sopranos have given way to rich dress, but 80 years in the same chorus hasn’t tempered Bob MacFarlane’s love of music

Marjorie Watson, choir director for 11 years, said: “Bob is the kind of member all choir directors would love to have. He is loyal, dependable, supportive and always does his best.

“He’s still an excellent singer – a staple in the bass department. He’s a likable person with a wit and sense of humor that makes choral practice more enjoyable for everyone.”

MacFarlane noted that during World War II, the lamps above the seats were fitted with tin lampshades to allow the choir to see their music without shedding much light during a power outage.

And at the end of the war he sang in church for a distinguished guest – Field Marshal Bernard “Monty” Montgomery, the leader behind some of the most important Allied victories.

The 86-year-old joined the church choir at St John's in Perth in 1941 when he was six, and only national service and work away from home prevented him from taking his place in the stalls.

The 86-year-old joined the church choir at St John’s in Perth in 1941 when he was six, and only national service and work away from home prevented him from taking his place in the stalls.

“He was at a special service on Memorial Day and I was standing at the door and talking to me,” said Mr. MacFarlane.

As a young man, Mr. MacFarlane moved to the Maldives while completing his national service. He later worked in insurance and married Margaret in 1961.

Forced to stop going to St John’s during the Covid lockdowns, so the couple watched services online.

But the great-grandfather has now returned to his friends and choir members. “We missed meeting people, but we are all in the same boat,” he said.

Worshipers in the church withstood well. Singing is not the same when you are away from society, but we nevertheless do our best.

O Holy Night tops the hymn poll

O Holy Night has been named Britain’s favorite Christmas carol.

The song topped a Classic FM poll for the sixth year in a row beating Silent Night in second place.

Gustav Holst’s version of In The Bleak Midwinter came in third, followed by Hark! Angels Herald sings.

Based on a French poem, O Holy Night is believed to be the first hymn played on radio – in 1906 – and was recorded by Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli. Howard Darke’s version of In The Bleak Midwinter came fifth in the poll, followed by O Come, All Ye Faithful, Carol Of The Bells, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, once in Royal David’s City and Away In A Manger.

‘You’ve got it all, Holy Night,’ said John Browning, who will host on Christmas Day on Classic FM – beautiful melody, powerful lyrics and, at its core, a story of hope and a promise of redemption. Its enduring popularity is undeniable.

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