Local Commentary

Our Man in Arlington

Christmas is here! It finally arrived last Sunday during the Follow the Light Christmas By Candlelight Concert at the Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield.

What! You might exclaim. Barton is a Unitarian; an Arlington Unitarian at that! What’s he doing way out in Springfield singing the Gospel?

It is one of the advantages of a large and close family life. One of our daughters’ father-in-law is a member of the church’s choir, and we have frequently been a guest at the annual Christmas concert since her marriage some fifteen years ago.

It is always a glorious occasion. A thirty-seven piece orchestra, a one-hundred-seven voice adult choir, and a sixty voice youth choir are the centerpieces of the concert. A fine forty-four person drama and dance cast tell the story of the Nativity of Jesus in a series of vignettes through out the concert. We are talking here a number of participants in the concert that is larger than most churches’ entire congregation! It was spectacular.

The concert opened with a lovely Christmas Fantasy Overture followed by a rousing Joy To The World sung with great gusto by almost one thousand people in the audience. Then we enjoyed a series of vignettes of the Christmas story, supported beautifully by the choir and orchestra. The choir then circulated through the sanctuary lighting candles held by every member of the audience. We sang a medley of the great Christmas carols in the soft glow of the candles, capped off by a truly rousing Hallelujah Chorus.

If you didn’t leave the concert fully infused with Christmas spirit, there would have been something seriously wrong with you.

Concerts like this have always been an important part in instilling the Christmas spirit in me, spurred on by my membership in the Baton Rouge Boy’s Choir, which every year had a major Christmas concert, orchestra and all. I certainly encourage you to attend one to get you off on the right foot, even if you are not a Christian.

Which leads me into a pitch for the current American Century Theater’s “An American Century Christmas.” It is to secular Christmas music what the Immanuel Bible Church’s concert is to sacred music.

To quote from TACT’s web page, “American Century Theater audiences are getting a special gift this holiday season: An American Century Christmas, a new musical special full of old classics, Christmas chestnuts, memories, laughs, tears and Christmas spirit. It’s a two hour reflection on how America celebrated Christmas between 1900 and 2000, the century that gave us the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular and Macy’s Parade, “White Christmas” and the Grinch. For young children, it’s a chance to experience many of the cherished Christmas moments their parents enjoyed. And for grown-ups, it’s Christmas like it used to be, before legal squabbles over decorations, culture wars, and ‘Bad Santa.’ Where else can you get O. Henry, Scrooge, George Bailey, Rudolf and ‘Santa Baby’ in one show, along with mistletoe and carols ‘round the tree’? If you think you’ll need a boost this year to get in the Christmas spirit, Theatre Two at the Gunston Arts Center is the place to go.”

The show runs through January 4. You can get information and tickets at www.americancentury.org.