Put a song in your heart during these busy days by listening to holiday melodies at four events this month — and in two of the events, join in singing the verses.

Today at 3 p.m. at Anniston’s First United Methodist Church, the Calhoun County Civic Chorale will present its winter concert, joined by the Wesley Bell Choir. Franz Schubert’s Mass in G will be the featured work, along with music by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Randall Thompson, Undine Smith Moore and seasonal favorites.

The chorale is under the direction of Patricia Corbin, JSU director of choral activities, and is one of five choral ensembles sponsored by the music department at Jacksonville State University.

Rachel Park, JSU visiting professor of piano, is the chorale’s accompanist. FUMC organist Christopher Henley will also accompany the choir on several selections.

The Civic Chorale consists of singers from the community as well as JSU students and faculty. Many of the singers will be featured soloists for this performance.

The Wesley Bell Choir is under the direction of Kathy Murphy, FUMC minister of music. “Several of the selections in the chorale performance in this concert could benefit from the addition of bells,” said Corbin. “Kathy Murphy is a longtime member of the chorale, and when I asked her if they would be willing to join us for this concert, she was happy to have them participate.”

Churches host ‘Christmas Lessons and Carols’

Several area churches are holding “Christmas Lessons and Carols” worship services.

“The service is a nice way to incorporate scripture and seasonal music. It provides a way to prepare for, and to celebrate, Christ’s birth,” said Robert Fowler, rector at Jacksonville’s St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, which is planning a Christmas Lessons and Carols service Dec. 10 at 10:30 a.m.

Anniston’s First United Methodist Church will offer “Nine Lessons and Carols” on Dec. 19 at 6 p.m.

Jacksonville’s First Presbyterian Church will hold a “Christmas Lessons and Carols” service on Dec. 10 at 11 a.m., with soloists Estefania Wilcox and Jason Wright, accompanied by church organist Susie F. Dempsey. Everyone is invited. The congregation will participate in the service by singing several carols.

Wilcox, a soprano, will sing “O Holy Night” by Placide Cappeau and Adolphe-Charles Adam; “He Came in Silence,” an imaginative contemporary work by Martin; and “He Shall Feed His Flock,” a portion of Handel’s “Messiah.”

By singing from Handel’s “Messiah,” Wilcox will bring to us one of the great works of sacred music, one which reveals prophetic messages from the Bible’s Old and New Testaments.

Amazingly, the entire work was written in only 23 days and at a low point in Handel’s musical career. But not surprisingly, it was an instant success, according to texts.

“O Holy Night” was written in 1847, after a priest asked Cappeau to write a carol for Christmas. His friend Adam then put a tune to the piece. Cappeau wrote the words while alone on a stagecoach journey to Paris, according to “Christmas Classics” by David McLaughlan. As a non-churchgoer, Cappeau was thought to be an unlikely candidate for writing this inspiring work, but its message has given hope to people throughout generations.

The Columbian-born Wilcox is an adjunct music lecturer at Jacksonville State University. Her operatic experience includes numerous leading roles with the University of New Mexico and Jacksonville Opera Theatre. She also teaches group piano classes through the JSU Music Academy.

Wright, a baritone, will sing “I Wonder as I Wander,” by Langston Hughes; “Born in the Night, Mary’s Child,” favorite hymn from the Presbyterian Hymnal written by Geoffrey Ainger; and “Sweet Little Jesus Boy,” a spiritual.

“I love spirituals,” Wright said. This one is special to him because he first heard it sung by his friend the late Hattie Peters during a concert at the Church of St. Michael and All Angels. “The words to this song have deep meaning,” he said.

Wright is completing the requirements for a graduate degree in art at JSU. He is on the faculty of Piedmont High School, where he teaches a variety of courses in music, drama and art. He is also a well-known area actor, having played in many productions by the Jacksonville Opera Theatre as well as in Anniston and Gadsden community theaters.

Quilt exhibit at Anniston’s Catalyst gallery

A homespun holiday with lots of colors: That’s the theme of the quilt display by Margaret McNaron at Catalyst throughout December.

Two of the quilts are originals made by McNaron, and two were made by quilters from other regions in the past that were passed on to McNaron to repair.

The exhibit, at 1224 Noble St., may be seen by appointment by calling McNaron at 256-310-9018. Read more about the exhibit next week in this column.

Hervey Folsom writes about the local arts scene every Sunday. Contact her at herveyfolsom@yahoo.com.