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44th Lessons and Carols at First Presbyterian Church in Sumter

Soloist, instrumentalists join choir Sunday

BY IVY MOORE
Arts and culture contributor
Posted 12/11/19

For the 44th year, First Presbyterian Church will present its Service of Lessons and Carols, its annual celebration of Advent and Christmas.

At 10:30 a.m. Sunday, the third in Advent, the lessons - scriptural passages alternating with …

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44th Lessons and Carols at First Presbyterian Church in Sumter

Soloist, instrumentalists join choir Sunday

Posted

For the 44th year, First Presbyterian Church will present its Service of Lessons and Carols, its annual celebration of Advent and Christmas.

At 10:30 a.m. Sunday, the third in Advent, the lessons - scriptural passages alternating with congregational hymns and choral and instrumental music - will tell the story of Christmas from a passage in the third chapter of Genesis and ending with the final verse of Matthew.

The music that follows each reading will serve to expand on the significance of the lesson. Prayers and meditations are also integral to the program led by the the Rev. Nick Cheek.

Joni Brown, First Presbyterian's minister of music, said the church's chancel choir and soloists will be accompanied by the Taylor String Quartet, Evan Thompson on trumpet and percussionist Kenny Jordan.

Before the service of Lessons and Carols begins, prelude music will begin with a trumpet solo by Thompson who will then join organist Hamilton Stoddard for "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," arranged by Dallas Blair.

Cheek will welcome the congregation and guests, and the Advent candle will be lit before the Lessons and Carols.

John Michael Osteen, baritone, will sing John Jacob Niles' "I Wonder as I Wander" to introduce the first lesson, from Genesis. The second carol, "Comfort, Comfort," will be sung by the Chancel Choir, accompanied by Emmett Anglin on recorder and Kenny Jordan, percussionist. The third, "Climb to the Top of the Highest Mountain," will feature soprano soloist Michelle Blassengale. Brown said the carol is "adaptation of Isaiah 40, stating a quiet and calm proclamation of Jesus' coming."

The fourth carol, titled "My Soul Cries Out with a Joyful Shout," "employs an energetic Irish folk song for its melody," Brown said. "It paraphrases the Magnificat, Mary's song, as told in Luke 1:46-55." Soprano Mallory Bouknecht is the featured soloist.

The Chancel Choir will sing the fifth carol, "The Virgin Mary Had a Baby," a West Indian spiritual arranged by Robert DeCormier. The choir will also sing the sixth carol, "The Hands That First Held Mary's Child," a poem by Thomas Troeger, set to music by Dan Forrest.

"It tells the extraordinary story of a carpenter's son, whose journey begins in Bethlehem," Brown said.

Lyrics include "The hands that first held Mary's child were hard from working wood. From boards they sawed and planed and filed and splinters they withstood. This day they gripped no tool of steel, they drove no iron nail, but cradled from the head to heel our Lord, newborn and frail." The featured instrumental solo is by cellist Jacqueline Taylor Hendricks.

The seventh and ninth carols, "We Three Kings of Orient Art" and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," will be sung by the congregation and the choir.

The eighth carol is the 1864 "Sussex Carol," with words by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1904. Piano and strings will be featured in the carol sung by the Chancel Choir.

The service will close with the Hallelujah Chorus.