This Thursday saw the launch of the Dartington Christmas Tree Festival. We invited thirteen community groups (twelve outside the Great Hall, one in the Welcome Centre) to decorate the trees using the themes of arts, sustainability and social justice. You can see all the trees and read the community groups statements here
The decorations are a surprising, thought provoking and eclectic mix – so for example I found the Only Dads tree with its messages for absent fathers very moving and was astounded by quite how many everyday objects required oil as a constituent part (the Sustainable South Brent Tree).
For the opening ceremony we were joined by the massed forces of the Dartington Community Choir accompanied by the Dartington Brass Consort. Carols were interspersed by statements from five of the community groups (which you can see in the video) and Chris Leslie of St Agnes Fountain read a short extract from Tagore’s Gitanjali. Later Chris said ‘such a beautiful text – and one that I could read with absolute sincerity’. Here is the extract we used – and you can find the full text online:-
When thou commandest me to sing it seems that my heart would break with pride; and I look to thy face, and tears come to my eyes.
All that is harsh and dissonant in my life melts into one sweet harmony – and my adoration spreads wings like a glad bird on its flight across the sea.
I know thou takest pleasure in my singing. I know that only as a singer I come before thy presence.
I touch by the edge of the far-spreading wing of my song thy feet which I could never aspire to reach.
Drunk with the joy of singing I forget myself and call thee friend
You can view the trees in the Dartington Courtyard and Welcome Centre (along with their accompanying statements) right up until 21st December. Do go and see them if you can