Many carols are sung with a warm feeling of nostalgia, and despite words which are sometimes of dubious provenance ("the little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes"; "Christian children all must be mild, obedient good as he"). Anne Sardeson, a minister in the United Reformed Church and a member of the Hymns for Healing project at Holy Rood House, Thirsk, has written some more socially aware versions, and slipping one or two into a carol service would not go amiss. Here is an example – of course Walthamstow can be changed to wherever you are. Damian Boddy

O little town of Walthamstow,
we pray for you this hour.
That on the street the life we meet
will know God’s love and power.
For those who fear and worry,
for those who make hope true,
we pray this day and join to say:
God’s blessing be with you.

O little town of Walthamstow
may Christ be known today.
That in this place we’ll see his face,
and understand his way.
No ear may hear his coming,
but in this place we love,
Christ’s joy and peace will never cease
to bring grace from above.

O little town of Walthamstow,
proclaim the holy birth.
Your praises sing to God the King,
that peace be known on earth.
We pray that Christmas angels
the songs of praise will tell.
To Walthamstow, this place we know,
will come Immanuel.

© Anne Sardeson