A Swedish Weekend
– the visit of the Choir of Högstorps Kyrka, Växjö

Wow, what a weekend! I think I’ve recovered from it. Last Friday our long awaited Swedish visitors arrived for an action packed stay. Their first activity was lunch, arranged by Sheila and her team of volunteers. We were treated to a sung Grace, then it was down to their fourth meal of the day, having had three breakfasts on their journey [first, at home at 2am, second, on the 4am flight from Växjö to Copenhagen, third, on the flight from Copenhagen to London.]

After lunch we took most of them to their hosts home and allowed them a short rest before taking them on a tour of Oxford and to Choral Evensong in the Cathedral. Friday finished with a supper at their individual hosts. Well, actually some of the hosts paired up and let the Swedes keep each other company for supper and help each other out with the language, not that they really needed it as we seemed to keep talking most of the time. And so to bed.

Breakfast on Saturday morning was bright and early. Then it was off to Morning Prayer in church followed by a rehearsal for the choir and then a sightseeing trip and a pub lunch in Oxford.

Saturday was also the tenth anniversary celebration of ordination of women to the priesthood. So I went to the service in the Cathedral before meeting our Swedes under Tom Tower ready to have tea and a tour of the Cathedral with the Archdeacon. Next a rush home for a brief freshen up ready for the evening’s ‘bring and share’ supper party in the church hall including line-dancing and a taster of Sunday’s singing from the choir.

Sunday and our service was lead by superb singing from the choir. It was a rather special bilingual service. Followed by coffee in the vicarage garden and typical English Sunday Lunch with individual hosts. The visitors were treated to a tour of several colleges during the afternoon before they had a short break for a rehearsal and the Concert that we had all been waiting for.

The evening began with an organ piece played by Ulrik Hallenbrant, the Swedish choirmaster. The Choir of Högstorps Kyrka was the undoubted star turn of the evening but also appearing were: Jonathan Beecher playing the Cello, the choirs from Holy Trinity, Headington Quarry; St Mary and St Nicholas, Littlemore; St Mary’s own choir and the Asian Choir; the Byrd Consortium. Of course we had a party afterwards!!!

Monday and our guests departed but not before they had made a shopping trip into Oxford; my two visitors were heading for the ladies’ clothes shops. They finally left Oxford on the 2pm bus for Heathrow, leaving behind them not only memories of their beautiful singing, but much fun and fellowship, and love and laughter. We hope to see them all again in November when members of our congregation make a return visit to Växjö.

Judy Wilkinson
April 2004