Making joyful noise

Published 11:00 am Saturday, December 3, 2016

Albert Lea church will host holiday concert using multiple choirs

The community is welcome to celebrate the Christmas season with the Hanging of the Green concert at 7 p.m. Friday at First Lutheran Church in Albert Lea.

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The sanctuary will vibrate with the voices of the 40-member church choir and the sounds of a special 30-piece orchestra. A focal point will be the procession of light, where volunteers hang lighted wreaths to mark the coming of the light of the world.

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.

This concert has become a favorite regional event which draws on the talents of local and professional musicians from Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin.

The First Lutheran Church choir, under the direction of Tim O’Shields — minister of music and worship at the church — will tell the Advent and Christmas Story with sounds of the season, from classical works to spirituals to contemporary music.

A church choir, children’s choir and hand bell choir will perform Friday at the church. - Provided

A church choir, children’s choir and hand bell choir will perform Friday at the church. – Provided

Highlights for this year include “See Amid the Winter’s Snow,” by John Goss and arranged by Sir David Willcocks; the powerful Scottish spiritual “What Strangers Are These?” arranged by Joseph Martin; and “Sing We Now of Christmas,” a French carol arranged by John Leavitt.

The orchestra will offer classical works and stunning arrangements of Christmas carols that will stir listeners’ Christmas spirit. The orchestra will begin the night with the overture to Handel’s “Messiah,” as well as arrangements of favorite carols, including “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”

The church hand bell choir, joined by an oboe and a rhythm ensemble, will offer a stunning medley of Christmas carols that will delight with a spectrum of bell sounds and techniques.

The children’s choirs of First Lutheran Church, Rays of Light and Sounds of Joy, will join forces to sing several selections with the orchestra, including “Mary’s Boy Child” and “Patapan.”

Even the audience will participate as they join the choirs, accompanied by the orchestra, in classic Christmas carols. Soloists include Stephanie Erdman (mezzo soprano), a favorite singer and actress with Albert Lea Community Theatre and other groups, singing “Mary Did You Know;” Noah Iverson (baritone), a senior at Albert Lea High School, singing “I Wonder as I Wander;” and Jennifer Ordalen Paulson, local musical talent, will sing “Give Me Jesus.”

There is no admission charge for the concert or the reception following in Bethany Hall in the lower level of the church, though a free-will offering will be taken.

“This is a Christmas gift from First Lutheran to tell the story of Christ’s Birth to the community and surrounding areas,” O’Shields said.

For more information, call First Lutheran Church at 507-373-6424.

Centerpiece created for Crèche Walk

Throughout the Advent season, First Lutheran Church is offering the third annual Crèche Walk, at no charge, with multiple displays of nativity scenes and angels that tell the Christmas story through art. This year a new addition is the centerpiece for the Crèche Walk created by a local artisan called Justa Guy. He hand crafted a 5-inch scale replica of the Little Town of Bethlehem.

“Justa Guy admitted that he had help in creating this master work,” O’Shields said. “He said that something more powerful than him or other human beings, guided his creativity and hands to tell the story through art. It is amazing.”