Back in the fall of 2019, the Christmas at First concert was a priority that needed to be addressed as soon as I started work in September. It may seem odd to begin work on Christmas music so early, but there are a lot of pieces that go into a concert and only so many rehearsals prior to the concert. I’m letting you in on some insider Music Minister information here, but an ensemble does not feel confident in singing a piece until they’ve rehearsed it a minimum of 4 times. So, each weekly anthem you hear has been worked on starting a month out, if not sooner. The pandemic started a few months after the concert in 2019 and we haven’t had a real “concert” since. Because of that, and the fact that we started this year’s music in July, I am REALLY excited about the program on Sunday evening.

I’m excited about hearing the singers, the orchestra, directing and hopefully the joy it will share, but I think I’m most excited about the message that it is spreading. Music is a language. I think it’s a language that has different accents (genres), but it communicates with us in a way that is very unique. Anyone, at any age, resonates with how music moves through them. I vividly remember watching my oldest daughter Bella, who was 1 at the time, stand up and begin dancing to music in our living room. It made her feel a certain way and it changed her internally, so much that she had to move to what she was experiencing.

One of the weird things about music is that it has different levels of understanding. For example, one of our pieces will be in Latin on Sunday evening. While you will have the English translation available to you, the Latin text won’t be understood, unless you speak Latin, but the message within the beauty of the sounds will most likely resonate. Additionally, it won’t impact my 5-year-old, but Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer will. We have different tastes of music, just like food, and our palette can change over time.

Even with these different “tastes,” Sunday evening’s program is designed to cover a wide array to help everyone enjoy what they are experiencing. The messaging that we’re serving is that God is Love. A Love that came down to Earth to dwell with us (Emmanuel). That Love should be celebrated through every form of communication that we can offer, whether verbally or spiritually. I hope you will be here Sunday evening to come and experience this message.

-Ryan Heritage

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