Advent Christmas Concert a stellar event

St John’s United Methodist Combined Chorus.
St. John’s UMC of Elmont

The St. John’s United Methodist Church (UMC) Chancel Choir in Elmont on Dec. 1 took its annual Advent Christmas Concert to the next level, according to congregant Stacy-Ann Ellis.

Ellis told Caribbean Life that the stellar event featured Handel’s Messiah and other Christmas selections, such as “O Holy Night;” “My Soul Doth Magnify the Lord;” and “O, Come Emmanuel / What Child Is This.”

“Whereas most Western Christian churches will commemorate the beginning of the season with an appropriate service, St. John’s UMC of Elmont took their expressions of celebration a notch up,” she said. The 52-person combined chorus was dressed elegantly in black, with yellow and red accents, following the direction of choral director Priscilla Baskerville.

“Their voices were complemented by a robust orchestra of strings, percussion and keys, including the talents of organist Elmer Hammond, pianist Leon Reid and cellist Khari Joyner,” she added.

“The night’s powerhouse soloists for Handel’s Messiah included soprano Jeryl Cunningham, baritone Antonio Watts, tenor Omar Bowey and mezzo-soprano Lucia Bradford,” Ellis continued.

By concert’s end, she said the church’s congregation, led by the Rev. David T. Ball, the African-American pastor, “was not the only beneficiary of these melodic delights,” but the concert “also proved to be a night of illumination for the surrounding community, a small example of the church’s desire to keep their arms, hearts and sanctuary wide open.”

Stating that the Latin word, Adventus, means coming or arrival, Ellis said Advent marks the four weeks of spiritual preparation for the birth of Jesus on Christmas.

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