(photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
St. Paul's Episcopal Church and Hunter Memorial Presbyterian Church will present a Community Messiah Singalong at 3 p.m. Dec. 22 at Hunter Memorial Presbyterian Church, located on the corner of Allen Boulevard and Wakefield Street.
The event will be directed by Harry Howard.
An organ prelude will be followed by carols and songs centered around Handel's "Messiah," which will include "And the Glory Of," "O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion," "Glory to God" and "Hallelujah."
Making the holiday performance even more special is the fact that the performers are inviting residents to join them. People of all ages interested in being part of the sing-a-long are simply asked to attend rehearsals from noon to 2 p.m. Dec. 14 and 21 not only to feel more comfortable about the music but to learn to help lead the congregation.
Practice tapes of individual parts are available for those who would like to work on the music at home.
And to add more fun to the afternoon, the audience is encouraged to join in. "Everyone who comes through the door should expect to sing. And if you can't sing, just cut off when the director cuts off," joked Howard, who is organist at Hunter Memorial Presbyterian Church and organist as well as choir master at St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
"I've done something like this in Syracuse, N.Y., Denver, Colo., and Louisville, Ky., where the communities are very large. When I moved here I wanted to do the same thing but I didn't think there were enough resources. But as I've discovered, there's all this talent here," said Howard.
Excited about the upcoming event, Howard said he not only hopes for 100 performers, but for even more people in the audience.
"I want people from all over Southeast Missouri to come and be filled with the Christmas spirit and be reacquainted with the old standard Christmas songs. It's really going to be a lot of fun."
Those who have copies of "Messiah" are encouraged to bring them so that everyone will have a copy to sing by.
"We'll only sing selected portions because we didn't want to overwhelm people with too many songs and too long of a performance," he noted. "But we are talking about doing this as an annual event."
But as Howard was quick to point out the Community Messiah Singalong is about more than just music.
It's also about bringing churches and their different beliefs together as well as being an instrument to possibly reach those who aren't attending church or who may be in need of some spiritual healing this holiday season.
"Really, this is so needed for our communities and for our churches," he said. "People have been so supportive of this idea. The way they've grasped onto this shows an ecumenical spirit that is needed today. This event will be truly a reconciliation of the true Christmas spirit that Handel envisioned when he wrote 'Messiah.'"
Anyone interested in being in the performance or for more information contact Howard at 471-3267 or 471-2680.