If you feel like you’re always stuck in second gear and it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month or even your year, then the Friends theme song is an accurate representation of your 2020. In this case, the Sing Silent Night Campaign in Colchester is the ray of sunshine you need to end the past twelve months on a positive note.
The campaign was launched by local businesswoman Emma Asensio and aims to bring everyone across the borough together to sing Silent Night from the streets, doorsteps, windows and gardens at 8pm on Sunday, December 20.
The Christmas sing-along was born out of the environment Mrs Asensio and everyone else around the globe were forced into during the pandemic. Mrs Asensio has been involved in the live music industry for the past twenty years, but the March lockdown meant her business was suddenly ground to a halt.
She says: “I used to work in London-based venue and because there was no work in the live events industry we then had to diversify. We have started up drive-in movies and drive-in events at the Ardleigh Showground in Colchester.”
Mrs Asensio runs firms Spot On and Popcorn Movies but with the second lockdown she admits her business “hit another obstacle”.
She says: “I was approached by so many people sending their warm wishes and in amongst I was also contacted by some vicars asking if I would be able to offer the community a drive-in Christmas carol service.
So, then I thought: ‘Why don’t I do it like the lady who did Clap for our Carers and people could sing a song together in unison to bring some magic to the end of 2020?’”
Now that the Sign Silent Night Campaign is a fact, there will also be a Christmas service abiding by the current coronavirus rules at the Ardleigh Showground on the same day. The event will be led by the Vicar of Dedham Antony Wilson and the Bishop of Colchester the Rt Rev Roger Morris.
Mrs Asensio adds: “There will be some readings and audience participation. The service will finish around 7:55pm, when we will in unison all sing Silent Night with everybody else across Colchester and beyond hopefully.”
Those who attend the event can either do the carol service in their car or from the parking bay on site. And as Mrs Asensio says, everyone “will be able to sing, enjoy, and go crazy”.
Colchester based Actual Radio will be playing the backing track on the night of the campaign, which will make the whole experience even more magical.
According to Mrs Asensio, the Silent Night sing-along is a great way to make the community spirit stronger after the “awful lows” 2020 had in store for almost everybody. And the song choice is not accidental.
Silent Night played its role in the Christmas Truce of 1914 when the opposing German and British forces walked out of their trenches to greet each other and share food and drink.
Mrs Asensio explains: “It is quite an iconic Christmas carol. And it’s been translated to 140 different languages from its original version in German. So, it’s quite well known across the globe as well.
As we are a multicultural society, I feel it is a Christmas carol that will appeal to everybody. That’s why it is inclusive.”
And in case English is not your first language, you can still participate and sing from the top of your lungs.
Mrs Asensio adds: “People don’t have to sing it in English, if they know it in their mother tongue, sing it in their mother tongue. It doesn’t matter. It’s great. I am half Spanish so I could sing it in Spanish if I want to!”
If you’d love to participate but feel like singing is not your cup of tea and you sound like a drowning cat when doing so, Mrs Asensio encourages everyone to “just give it a go”.
She says: “People can bring a guitar on the street, or some drums or a trumpet. They don’t have to sing it, they can clap along, they can play the backing music, they can get their kids and their nuns to sing. They can do whatever they want. It doesn’t matter if they can’t sing or they feel that they can’t sing. That makes no odds. It’s about being involved.”
Mrs Asensio is keen on getting everyone join the sing-along: from local communities and churches, to different institutions, clubs and societies.
2020 has completely changed her life but the Colchester businesswoman wants to show the community that every cloud has a silver lining.
She says: “It’s made me realize how lucky people are and how sometimes we don’t need to chase material things. I don’t need to be working 17-18 hours a day. It is quite ok to be at home with the kids and be growing tomato plants.”
Despite the challenges 2020 has presented Mrs Asensio with, she is optimistic about the future.
She adds: “Yes, my career has changed, and I have all these projects, but my life has slowed down, and I have been able to revaluate and see things differently.
It’s been a really sad year for hundreds of thousands of people and let’s just hope we can take the greatness out of it in some way.”
If you want to take part in the Sing Silent Night Campaign from your doorstep, print off the poster for your window or download the lyrics to the song, you can do that on singsilentnight.org