Holiday ‘Cheer’

November 26, 2007

Greater Things Dance Ministry performs at Christmas CheerCollege Chaplain Patricia Hunt can’t be sure that the way she plans Mary Baldwin’s annual Christmas celebration is the same as it was done when the event was first given the name Christmas Cheer in 1977. In fact, she detailed many changes in the ceremony since she started helping organize it in 1985 (before that it was under the direction of then-Mary Baldwin Choir Director Robert Allen). Hunt has found a method that works for her and for the audience that packs into First Presbyterian Church in early December for carols, hymns, and readings. Corralling several performance groups and lining up half a dozen or more readers, an organist, sound technicians, and ushers is not something that happens overnight.

“I want those who participate and those in the audience to have a joyful experience, and I want people to leave with renewed hope. ‘Behold, I bring you good news of great joy,’” Hunt said.

Originally, the Mary Baldwin University Choir was the sole musical entertainment, but as the popularity of Cheer and the diversity of vocal groups on campus grew, so did the service’s program. “We have tried to accommodate the desire of all groups to participate,” said Hunt, who is challenged to fit all the groups into a ceremony that takes about one hour and 15 minutes. There is no dress rehearsal for Christmas Cheer, so Hunt does her best to schedule a service that avoids “dead time” between performers and flows from lessons to music to meditation, without actually seeing it in action beforehand.

“I hope Christmas Cheer reconnects people to the bedrock of the holiday season,” Hunt said.

The Details

All are invited to celebrate the holiday season in word, song, and dance, at Mary Baldwin University’s annual Christmas Cheer concert at 4 p.m. December 2, at First Presbyterian Church

This year’s Christmas Cheer will feature Mary Baldwin’s Concert Choir, Madrigal Singers, Baldwin Charm, Anointed Voices of Praise, and the Greater Things Dance Ministry. Madrigals, an elite a capella group, will be singingO magnum mysteriumandLo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.

Baldwin Charm, the college’s other elite a capella group, will be singing a pop rendition ofOh, Holy Night. The Anointed Voices of Praise, a group of young gospel singers, will singJoyful, JoyfulandNot Just a Man. Mary Baldwin’s Choir, made up of nearly 80 singers, will be singingGloria in Excelsis Deo,The Shepherd’s Farewell, andWhat Sweeter Music.

The Greater Things Dance Ministry, Mary Baldwin’s liturgical dance group, will perform an interpretation of The Magnificat. Pre-service music will be performed by local musicians, Tom Weir, Richard Adams, Tom McKenzie, and Robert Harrold. The evening will also include lessons presented by members of the Mary Baldwin community.