Five musicians from Conway are lending their voices to a public candlelight Christmas service at Morrilton First United Methodist Church next Monday, Dec. 16, at 7 p.m.
They are Valerie Temple, a retiree; Kendra Thomas and Jeremy Hopper of the University of Central Arkansas; Robert Liebendorfer and Adam Nick of Hendrix College; and Jordan Bennett, assistant director, who holds a Master’s degree in Choral Conducting from UCA and a Bachelor’s in Music from Arkansas Tech University.
In addition, 23 regular choir members from Morrilton and two guest artists will present "Festival of Lessons and Carols" under the leadership of Director Preston Sweeden and Organist/Pianist Zoe Butler.
Opening voluntaries will be a vocal solo of "Ava Maria" by Holly Ruth Gale of Arkansas Tech University and a harp solo by Alisa Coffey, principal harpist of Arkansas symphony. The choir’s processional, "Once in Royal David’s City," will begin with a vocal solo by baritone John Gibson followed by the choir singing the second verse, with the congregation joining in the third verse.
The Festival of Lessons and Carols is a service of scripture and song that dates to the late 19th century. In this service Scripture lessons from the Holy Bible recount the Fall from the Garden of Eden, the Promise of a Messiah, the Incarnation, Birth, and the Great Commission to spread the Gospel News. Each lesson — read from Genesis, the prophetic books, and the gospels — is followed by a carol or song that reflects on the lesson’s message. The Rev. Todd-Paul Taulbee, pastor of FUMC, will read the scriptures. The original liturgy has been adapted and used by churches all over the world. Each year Director Sweeden varies traditional favorite pieces with new or different music. This year an original composition, "Dancing Day," by newly published composer Sean Sweeden will be premiered by the choir, accompanied by Sean on marimba and Mallory Sweeden on flute.
In his invitation to the public, the Rev. Taulbee said, "‘Lessons and Carols’ is one of the most meaningful worship experiences of the year. For those who want to share the birth of Jesus Christ through song and story, this moving service is not to be missed."
Following the service, guests are invited to a reception in Fellowship Hall. A nursery will be provided. The church is located at 201 S. Chestnut in Morrilton. Church phone is 501-354-4077 or visit the Chancel Choir at choirplace.com and the church at fumcmorrilton.com.