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Vicksburg Chamber Choir prepares for Tuesday performance

The Christmas story will be told in scripture, poem and song when the Vicksburg Chamber Choir presents “Service of Lessons & Carols” 7 p.m. Tuesday at First Presbyterian Church, 1501 Cherry St.

Admission is free, but donations are encouraged.

The program, choir director Sharon Penley said, “Is a very traditional service around Christmas, especially in the Anglican tradition in the English universities. On Christmas Eve they have services of lessons and carols, and they are a pairing of scriptures that tell the nativity story with matching carols.”

The program, she said, will feature readings from scripture and other works like poetry that involve creation, incarnation and the birth of Christ.

“You will have carols paired with them; you’ll have a reading, then you’ll have a carol or two and then another reading and another carol,” she said.

Music for the program includes original, 21st century Christmas carols, Penley said.

“They’re new, but they tell the Christmas story. We have two pieces by a very talented composer, Gwyneth Walker, and they are written for choir accompanied by piano and clarinet,” she said. “They’re really fun; they were both copyrighted in 2019, so they are brand new.”

One of the pieces, “The Friendly Beasts,” is a humorous piece, Penley said, that uses the clarinet to portray the sounds of barnyard animals. Another piece by Walker is “Angels Singing,” which is a new variation of “Angels We Have Heard on High.”

“We have three or four pieces that have violin accompaniment that are really beautiful,” she said. “There’s something that will appeal to everyone. There are very ‘high church,’ elegant pieces; we have a bluegrass piece, we have contemporary Christian pieces, modern compositions.”

The bluegrass piece, called “Brightest and Best,” comes from Appalachian traditions and features fiddle accompaniment.

“We have a beautiful, very traditional Magnificat, which is Mary’s song and is accompanied by violin, and the piano accompaniment is based on a tune by (Russian composer Sergei) Rachmaninoff,” she said. “It’s very classical and very lovely.”

The program she said, “Is Christmas for grownups; it’s a beautiful hour of scripture and poetic text about the incarnation and carols that tell the story and it’s all acoustic. It’s an hour that’s unplugged; it’s very lovely and quiet. It’s a beautiful hour to step out of the hectic (activity) of Christmas.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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