IT WAS a Christmas wish more than 80 years in the making.

A new Christmas carol written by a retired widow from Largs was performed for the first time at Paisley Abbey, fulfilling her dream to have her music performed in public.

Catherine Murray, 82, and her daughter Fiona White were seated in the former Cluniac monastery to hear her new carol performed by the Paisley Abbey Choristers in front an audience of hundreds.

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The surprise performance came just a week after the pensioner wrote to the Church of Scotland with an unusual Christmas request.

Tucked inside the envelope, along with her letter, were the words and music for Christmas Morning, a new carol she had written herself.

Mrs Murray wrote: “I thought perhaps the children might like to hear a carol meant especially for them... I will be 83 soon and would love to hear this carol being sung by a wee group of children.”

Touched by the letter, the minister at Paisley Abbey Rev Alan Birss, agreed to help make Catherine’s dream come true and arranged to have it performed by the choir at the choral service for the Accord Hospice.

Mrs Murray said she could not have asked for a more perfect place or occasion to hear here carol sung for the first time.

“I honestly feel like I’m in a dream. This is almost unreal,” she said.

“I can’t put into words what it means to me to hear my carol sung in Paisley Abbey by such a wonderful group of singers.

“I love children and I love music so this couldn’t have been more perfect. The children’s voices were amazing.”

Mrs Murray, a former dressmaking teacher and youth worker who was born in Gourock, Renfrewshire, ran a bed and breakfast in Crieff with her husband James for 10 years after his retirement from the Glasgow police force.

She took up writing music on her keyboard after a heart attack in 1997, and said that the words and the melodies simply “come to her” unbidden. After the service, abbey musical director Professor George McPhee said the choristers will be happy to perform Mrs Murray’s carol again.

He said: “The choristers immediately took to it and they found it very singable and very appealing,” he said. “Obviously Mrs Murray has an intuitive gift for writing melodies and I hope that others will take it up.”

Rev Alan Birss added: “It is a lovely tune, easy to listen to and it fitted beautifully into the carol service.”