Christmas morning in Glen Rock as photographed by Charles Ehrman
Sometime in 1848 two nephews of the founder arrived in Glen Rock. One of them was Mark Radcliff and the other was Charles Heathcoate. They were accompanied by George Shaw. Radcliff and Shaw had learned the trade of rope making in England and planned to follow it in Glen Rock. Their first facility, called the rope walk, was situated along the Codorus Creek at a strategic spot known as the meadows, 59 Water Street, where Glen Rock EMS is now located.
The carolers begin their trek through the Borough of Glen Rock at the stroke of midnight and continue for approximately six to eight hours, ending with the singing of the “Doxology” at the community Christmas tree and Carolers Monument. On December 25, 2021, this trek was repeated for the 174th time. This tradition has been continued in all weather conditions, and even during times of war. During the pandemic of 2020, the entire town was covered in 2¾ hours by using two groups of Carolers. → See: 2020 Route Description.
The group is composed of 50 Caped Members, a number of Life Members who
have sung 50 years or more, and the Associate Members
(often referred to as the “Waiting List”).
Persons seeking membership in the group are required to
apprentice as Associate Members and are made full Caped Members
when a position has opened by the death or resignation of one of the members,
or when a Caped Member has sung 50 years, thereby becoming a Life Member.
→ See: Members
Throughout the years the carolers have experimented with various types of instruments. Woodwinds like the bassoon, flute, and saxophone have been used along with brass instruments like the cornet, trombone, and baritone, and stringed instruments like the violin and cello. In 1938 and 1939 the carolers even used a glockenspiel. See: Instruments
Filling out the ranks are the Director, Peanut Man, Photographer, and Lantern Crew.
The 125th anniversary was celebrated in 1972 with the publication of Salute This Happy Morn: A History of The Glen Rock Carol Singers. Dr. Charles Glatfelter was proclaimed the first honorary member of the Glen Rock Carolers for writing the book.
For the 150th Anniversary in 1997, the Carolers produced a video entitled
Softly Sweetly Through the Air: The Story of the Glen Rock Carol Singers.
This hour-long production skillfully presented in sight and sound glimpses the
custom as it was actually practiced in 1996, with some reference to earlier years
and brief interviews with five or six veteran carolers. The script was written by
Don Swartz of Glen Rock who was elected an honorary caroler for his work.
Listen as Darryl and Glenn Engler, Bob Nicklow, and Tony Schuchart sang “While Shepherds” while Richard Shue played the Bassoon. This was followed by a re-creation of the 1912 Carolers: twenty-one Carolers who were members for at least twenty-five years (1972-1997) sang “Hark Hark” accompanied by Michael Engler on the tenor sax and Paul Ward on the cello → Listen.
Both of these recordings as well as the remainder of the full concert and speeches and proclaimations by Deb Dominick - Glen Rock Borough Council President, Donna Krebs - Glen Rock Jaycees, David Seitz - York County Treasurer, Congressman William F. Goodling, Dr. Charles H. Glatfelter, and Carolers’ President Karl Steger, can be found on the Carolers’ CD, VOICES of CHRISTMAS.
The 160th anniversary in 2007 was highlighted by the release of the second edition of Salute This Happy Morn: A History of The Glen Rock Carol Singers. Included in the book of 256 pages is a reprint of the 1972 book, followed by an update of the next 35 years history, including the trip to England. This anniversary book can be ordered: HERE
The 2016 CD “Hark! Hark! The Glen Rock Carolers Break Forth in Song”
can be ordered: HERE
Completing the circle, the Glen Rock Carolers returned to our roots in England in 2002 and 2012 to sing on the Festival of Village Carols in Sheffield. → See: UK1 and UK2.
On each occasion, we brought back a new song as a remembrance of the trip. → See: Songs
The English Carolers were welcomed to Glen Rock in 2014 as we hosted the first Festival of English Village Carols. → See: Festival