“Sing me the joy of Christmas” is a verse from a rousing anthem heard in Christian churches today. The music brings the Yuletide spirit close to the heart. But if you ask, “Paint me the joy of Christmas,” that’s a reasonable request, too, one that artists from east Alabama have already granted. Two events this month demonstrate how music and visual arts can keep Christmas on our minds.
On Tuesday at 6 p.m., the First United Methodist Church of Anniston will host a community festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. The service will be sung by a community choir under the direction of Christopher Henley, organist and music associate of FUMC.
The service will be accompanied by Matthew Edwards, organist and choirmaster of Saint Matthias Episcopal Church in Tuscaloosa, and Abigail Acker Workman, harpist. Workman, a native of Anniston, currently resides in Birmingham. The service will include readers from across the community who serve in community and church positions.
The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was begun in 1918 at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England. The first public broadcast of this service dates back to 1928.
Since then, people across the globe have become familiar with the universal opening carol, “Once in Royal David’s City.” On Tuesday, the carol will be sung by Jonah Brooks Wallace of Birmingham, a boy soprano with the Birmingham Boys Choir.
This is a traditional English service of dignity and simplicity, with scripture readings from Genesis, Isaiah, Micah, Matthew, Luke and John. The carols sung are the choir’s and congregation’s response to the readings.
Workman will accompany the choir in “There is No Rose (of Such Virtue)” from Benjamin Britten’s work “A Ceremony of Carols.” The song is based on the German carol “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” first published in 1582.
The carol’s message is that a rosebud (representing Christ) that dared to open in the snow defied the odds and become the hope of the world. According to tradition, the carol was written by a German monk who, while walking in the snow, found a rose in full bloom.
In the prelude, the harpist will perform a medley called “Clair de Noel” based on the themes of Claude Debussy’s famous “Clair de Lune,” “Still, Still, Still” and “Silent Night.”
The nine readers represent nine points in life: a child, a young person, a teacher, a society member, deacons, elders or other leading positions in the church and, finally, a minister.
While at FUMC, be sure to notice the display of 10 liturgical banners in the sanctuary. They represent the advent season. These angel banners, which hang 17 feet above the floor, are pieces of handwork created by ladies from the church.
Christmas card trail of outdoor paintings
With the use of electronic mail, the sending of Christmas cards by mail has declined. But thanks to artists working through Tour East Alabama, the placing of 22 large outdoor cards throughout five counties helps keep the tradition alive.
In Calhoun County, see the cards at the Anniston Museum of Natural History, the J.C. Morgan Gallery in Oxford, the Alumni House at Jacksonville State University, and the Eubanks Center on the Chief Ladiga Trail at 202 Dailey St., Piedmont.
In Talladega County, a card is located at 17 East Fort Williams in Sylacauga.
In Cleburne County, cards are displayed outside the Cleburne County Courthouse, The Nifty Nest and the restaurant at Cheaha State Park.
For a complete list of locations, visit Tour East Alabama’s Facebook page.
Art exhibit at Anniston public library
The current exhibit in the Ayers Room at the Public Library of Anniston-Calhoun County features the art collection of friends Carlos Sanchez and Landon Shirey. The two have broad interests in the realm of visual art; both like to share the beauty of paintings and drawings they have acquired. The exhibit will be up through January. More about the collection exhibit in next week’s column.
Hervey Folsom writes about the local arts scene every Sunday. Contact her at email@example.com.