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FBC hosts Christmas Praise

First Baptist Church of Demopolis’ Christmas program will have a slightly different feel this year. The church typically puts on a Christmas program named after the cantata they are performing.

This year, however, FBC’s Sanctuary Choir with team with other musicians to produce Christmas Praise: A compilation of Christmas music by Joel Raney.

“We’re doing portions of two difference cantatas, both of them by Joel Raney,” FBC Minister of Music and Senior Adults Ed Rush said. “One of them is Celebrate the Season and the other one is A Thrill of Hope.”

The church does a musical cantata every year on the second Sunday night in December to commemorate the holiday season.

“A cantata is a group of songs and narration put together to tell a gospel story,” Rush said. “We’re not singing scripture, but we’re telling a story through songs and narration.”

The production will feature the Sanctuary Choir as well as a handful of supporting cast.

“It’s our Sanctuary Choir, approximately 25 voices,” Rush said. “Also it includes our Handbell Chorus, seven handbell players.”

The group of FBC members participating in the event will be joined by a small collection of instrumentalists from the University of Alabama as well as a few local musicians.

“The little orchestra that we got together is mostly players from the University of Alabama,” Rush said. “We have to hire them to come down and play.”

Rush said the orchestra is an integral part of the production as it adds to the overall feel of the music.

“It adds a great deal of what we call musical color when you add different instruments,” Rush said. “We could do this cantata with just a piano. But the other instruments add so much to it.”

Weaving all the parts of the musical together will be the narration of Tom Boggs.

“We’ve done Celebrate the Season before. We actually did the full thing two years ago,” Rush said. “But the new one I picked out, A Thrill to Hope, wasn’t quite long enough.

“It only has four songs. So we’re going to do four songs from Celebrate the Season because I could put them together in a way that made sense since they are from the same composer.”

Rush began the process of selecting music for the event several months ago, arriving at two pieces from Chicago resident and Alabama native Raney late in the summer.

“I start early in the summer just listening to sample pieces that were coming out,” Rush said. “I usually like to try to have what I’m gong to do picked out by the end of August.”

Christmas Praise at First Baptist Church will take place Sunday, Dec. 12 at 6 p.m. The invitation to the event is open to all. Rush said admission is free and no love offering will be received.