Hanging of the Green concert returns to First Lutheran Church
Published 10:00 am Saturday, November 28, 2015
By Cathy Hay
If needing an infusion of Christmas spirit, be sure to attend the Hanging of the Green concert at First Lutheran Church in Albert Lea Dec. 11. The sanctuary will vibrate with the voices of the 50-member church choir and the sounds of a special 25-piece orchestra. The highlight will be much softer with the First Lutheran hand bell choir ringing while volunteers hang lighted wreaths to mark the light of the world coming into the world.
“This is First Lutheran’s way of extending Christmas greetings to the community,” said Tim O’Shields, minister of music and worship at the church. It’s time to bring our church together, our community together to celebrate the birth of Jesus.”
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Hanging of the Green is a traditional church service held to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ, usually the first week of Advent — the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas. Greens, such as cedar for royalty, fir and pine boughs for everlasting life, holly symbolizing Jesus’ death and ivy representing the resurrection, are often used.
O’Shields brought the tradition to the Albert Lea church in 2014. This year’s Hanging of the Green concert will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 11 at First Lutheran Church, 301 Clark St. A joyful and festive reception will follow in the church’s lower Bethany Hall. There is no charge for the concert or reception.
Among the performers will be Rays of Light and Sounds of Joy children’s choirs with 25 members total. The students, from first through sixth grade, have challenged themselves to learn something special, O’Shields said. The children’s songs include “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and “Christmas Canon” as performed by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, a multi-piece rock symphony.
O’Shields has also recruited professional-level musicians from Iowa and Minnesota to form a 25-piece orchestra, with several “stunningly beautiful” solo pieces, he said. One feature will be a medley of British composer Gustav Holst (1874 to 1934) Christmas pieces including “In The Bleak Midwinter” and excerpts from “Christmas Day.”
Musical highlights for the chorus and orchestra will include the “Shepherd’s Pipe Carol” by British composer John Rutter and “Breath of Heaven” by popular American singer Amy Grant.
The congregation will take part in the concert, joining the chorus in traditional Christmas carols arranged and orchestrated by Sir David Willcocks of King’s College, who died this past September at the age of 95. These are favorite arrangements like “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “The First Noel” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”
Amidst the hustle and bustle of shopping, baking and wrapping, this concert is a way to tune in to the meaning of Christmas with awe-inspiring music.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” O’Shields said.
If you go
Who: Church choir, children’s choir and hand bell choir, plus a special orchestra
What: Hanging of the Green concert
When: 7 p.m. Dec. 11
Where: First Lutheran Church in Albert Lea
Admission: No charge