Churches throughout the area will celebrate Christmas with cantatas that tell the story of Jesus' birth through song during the next two weeks.
Among them will be a cantata presented at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 19 at Second Avenue United Methodist Church, 130 Second Ave. It will be repeated at 9:30 a.m. at Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church, 200 Third Ave.
"Night of the Father's Love - the Awe and Mystery of God with Us" will be presented by the combined choirs of the two churches.
(Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec) Asa Carns directs the choir that will sing the cantata “Night of the Father’s Love — the Awe and Mystery of God with Us” at Second Avenue United Methodist and Bethany Evangelical Lutheran churches during practice at Second Avenue Methodist.
It was written by Pepper Choplin, who was a clinician at a workshop this summer where Asa Carns, organist and choir director at Second, and Cathy Tompkins, choir director at Bethany, became acquainted with the cantata.
Choplin focuses on the words "worship, mystery and beauty" in his effort to create a fresh telling of the Christmas story, Carns said. Choplin has composed new melodies and arranged others to incorporate well-known carols.
"So many textures and moods are present in this work that help to keep the beloved Christmas story a joy for all that will be present," Carns said.
In addition to the choirs, the Timm Family Singers of St. Marys, singers from Sight and Sound Theatre and students from Bellwood-Antis High School will participate. Tompkins will direct the choir, and Carns will be accompanist.
Carns also will be accompanist for "A Musical Christmas Collage" to be presented at 3 p.m. Dec. 19 at Bare Memorial Church of God, 505 E. Main St., Roaring Spring.
He will play the church's historic pipe organ and attendees will be invited to sing carols during the concert. James R. White, bass-baritone of Julian, will be the vocalist, and Ed Schwer, clarinetist of St. Marys, will play selections that reflect the holiday.
An offering will be taken, and a reception is planned. Other cantatas are:
Altoona Alliance, 1314 12th St., will present "Glory in the Highest: A New Hallelujah" at 10:45 a.m. Dec. 19.
Berean Baptist Church choir will present "Christmas is Jesus" at 6 p.m. Dec. 19. The church is at 2465 Mill Road in Duncansville.
Altoona's First Church of the Brethren, 510 Fifth St., will present "Mary Did You Know?" at 10:35 a.m. Dec. 19.
Soloists are Elisha Gonzales Trainer and Pastor Bill Pepper. The performance is directed by Jane Musser with piano accompaniment by Jeanie Geist.
The narration is by state Sen. John Eichelberger, and it tells the story of Jesus' birth from Mary's perspective. The church is handicapped-accessible.
Claysburg Church of the Brethren, 577 Bedford St., Claysburg, will present "A Love to Save the World" at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 19.
Roaring Spring Church of the Brethren, 901 Bloomfield St., Roaring Spring, will host a choir of Roaring Spring, Hollidaysburg, Twenty-eighth Street and other Church of the Brethren musicians to present "Night of the Father's Love," at 7 p.m. Sunday, directed by Terry Hershberger. Prelude music will begin at 6:45 p.m. with organ and piano selections and The Brethren Brass. Carol singing and candlelight service. The offering will go to Church of the Brethren Disaster Work teams. Refreshments will be served.
Greenwood United Methodist Church, 1505 E. Walton Ave., will present a cantata sung by its choir at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 19.
Ward Avenue Presbyterian Church, Ward and Coleridge avenues, also will present "Night of the Father's Love" at 10:45 a.m. Dec. 19. A nursery is provided.
St. John's Reformed Church of Loysburg choir will present "All is Calm, All is Bright" at 7 p.m. Dec. 19. Youth of the church will participate in the service. Refreshments will be served.