Ukrainian Christmas Carol Brought to Life in London

Year 6 pupils have brought some extra Christmas magic this year with a special recording by Young Voices of the traditional Ukrainian carol Shchedryk Shchedryk. The carol, known in English as The Carol of the Bells, was performed entirely in Ukrainian, with the lyrics painstakingly taught by two Ukrainian pupils to their English-speaking classmates.

The project began when two Ukrainian pupils approached Music teacher Caroline Epps asking to sing the carol in a music lesson, and offering to teach the rest of the class the Ukrainian words. The class set about learning the Ukrainian version of the carol, with the girls taking the lead in teaching the class.

After Junior School Head of Music Sheila Smith connected with Young Voices’ Principal Conductor David Lawrence, the idea evolved into a full choral performance from the pupils, filmed and recorded by Young Voices at the Junior School. The recording will be publicised to over 10,000 schools across the UK, encouraging pupils to perform the carol in their own school in solidarity with our Ukrainian friends.

Junior School Head of Music Sheila Smith said:

“Like many schools around the UK, Colfe’s has welcomed new pupils who had fled their homes in war-torn Ukraine in search of safety. They are now safe, but as the initial excitement of arriving wears off, there is the everyday struggle of working hard to communicate with their English friends, accessing lessons, and adjusting to life here, all the while with the very real concern for family, friends and even pets back at home. This fantastic project sparked evident excitement in these pupils, and a genuine transformation in their demeanour that is truly a joy to see.”

Year 6 Music Teacher Caroline Epps said:

“It was lovely to see our Ukrainian pupils wanting to sing something that belonged to them, and they were so proud and excited to share their language and music with the others, we could see them blossoming. Times have been really hard for these children, and as they spend their first Christmas away from their homes, families and friends, this was a small gesture we could make to let them know that we hear them and are here for them.”

When the war began in Ukraine and the UK welcomed refugees fleeing the conflict, Colfe’s began a special programme to offer funded places to children of such families. The school currently has 13 pupils on the scheme across the Junior and Senior Schools.

Young Voices is the world’s largest school choir group, working with schools across the UK to bring childrens’ choirs to life at concerts at major venues throughout the country.

The video and audio recordings, along with the backing track, score, lyrics and other resources for schools around the country to use in their own renditions, are available at: Young Voices – Shchedryk Shchedryk

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