Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018
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Lend your voice to the 'Messiah'

This year, the cast for local church Christmas productions cantatas, musicals, living Nativities, dramas, and more will feature Jesus, Joseph, and Mary; Scrooge; assorted camels, horses, and sheep, and you.

Yes, you and everyone who is interested are invited to join the chorus tomorrow night for a Messiah Sing-Along presented by Christ the Word Presbyterian Church of Toledo.

But even though you and your kin are invited to add your voices to this presentation of George Frederic Handel s 1742 oratorio, be forewarned that it s not your typical holiday sing-along.

It s hard music. It s very hard to sing, said the Rev. Andrew Dionne, Christ the Word s music minister, who will be conducting. If you haven t had any experience with Handel s Messiah, or any experience in choral singing, it s very hard. And I acknowledge that.

The idea came from Christ the Word s senior pastor, the Rev. David Bayly, who went to Messiah sing-alongs as a child in Chicago and wanted to make the same experience available to Toledoans.

There are five vocal soloists and a pianist. Visitors can bring their own musical scores or pick up a copy as they enter the church. For those who read music, all they need is a glance at Handel s masterpiece to see that it is a daunting composition.

It s very intimidating, said Mr. Dionne, who holds a doctorate in music composition from Indiana University. Opening up the score and looking at all the black on the page and the runs and the full parts, it s very intimidating even for the soloists and the choral parts at times are even harder than the solos.

Nevertheless, it is audience participation that makes this program so different, and Mr. Dionne wants to encourage people to join in during the choruses. This is the third year for the church s sing-along, and he said he has learned from experience that he must do more than conduct if he wants to get audience members involved.

I m going to be making comments throughout the evening and just trying to warm people up to singing, he said.

One section of the program that most people know and usually join in on is the finale, the Hallelujah Chorus, he added.

Sarah French, a member of Christ the Word, said she does not have a great singing voice but has participated in the two previous Messiah sing-alongs.

It s just a great opportunity to participate in a piece of music in a way you would not be able to do at a normal concert, Ms. French said. It s such a great piece of music and the spiritual aspect of the message is so meaningful. It sort of gets me in the mood for Christmas.

The Messiah Sing-Along starts at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Christ the Word Presbyterian Church, which meets at Toledo First Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 4909 Sylvania Ave., and will last approximately one hour. A reception with light refreshments will follow. Information: 419-329-1100 or online at

Another notable local holiday program is Jesus, Our Treasure, a musical and drama being presented for the second time by the Northwest Ohio Baptist Association.

Michelle Keaster, music director at First Baptist Church of Perrysburg, will be conducting the 60-voice choir and 20-piece orchestra. The program includes actors performing a drama.

It s from the perspective of one of the shepherds that the angels appear to the night Jesus is born, Ms. Keaster said. And he tells the story of Jesus, from birth to the resurrection, to his granddaughter.

As the shepherd, named Jacob for the drama, tells the story on one side of the stage, the cast acts out the scene on the other side.

Ms. Keaster said she was inspired to present Jesus, Our Treasure, after seeing it performed at a national conference in North Carolina.

I thought another church in the area might be able to help us with this, and it kept growing and growing, she said.

The Northwest Ohio Baptist Association has 36 congregations in Ohion and southeast Michigan, and 14 of them have members participating in the program.

Performances of Jesus, Our Treasure are set for 7 p.m. Friday and dec. 9 in the Perrysburg High School Auditorium, 1338 Roachton Rd. Admission is free but tickets are required. Information: 419-874-3546.

Contact David Yonke at: or 419-724-6154

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