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And Let Them Sing Joy to the World

Special to La Feria News

On a very recent, crisp and cold Thursday night, the United Methodist Church was packed with people of all ages. The parking lot was full, and the back of the sanctuary, as well as the overflow area in the fellowship hall, had as many chairs as it could hold for the concert that was about to take place.

The occasion was a performance by La Feria school choirs and their directors. There was even a special Christmas number by LFISD personnel. At three different times, the audience was invited to “sing along” to old familiar tunes.
As the lights dimmed and the choir walked down the center aisle for the start of the concert, the audience began to calm. The ladies were dawned in beautiful red and black dresses and the gentlemen in black suits. The candles provided what little light there was and set the mood for the music to come.

Director Randall S. Ashley waited for the audience to quiet. After introductions, the combined choirs were at the ready. As his baton fell, the music of A Still Silent Night filled the church building. The words brought goose bumps to the crowd.

As some of the students departed from the front of the sanctuary, the JV Women’s Choir members rearranged their positions. Their A la nanita nana was a festive tune. Then the Varsity Women’s Choir joined them for Carol of the Bells.

Some where in all of that Mrs. Alice Moya, assistant choir director, had an operatic solo. Her voice was so clear that she really did not need a microphone.

When it was time for the first audience sing-along, those assembled sang softly with the words to Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. Director Ashley encouraged everyone to not be so timid for their next sing-along song.

He used the intermission that followed to recognize choir members who placed at the recent TMEA Region and pre-area competitions. At some point, Mr. Ashley thanked Mrs. Moya for her technical expertise and help with the sound system and acoustical logistics. He also recognized the piano accompanist, Donna Swinnea.

The second half of the concert began with both women’s choir groups, featuring three young ladies, who sang a humorous rendition of Christmas, Baby Please Come Home.

Then came a new choir group of individuals made up of administrators, coaches and faculty members. They sang the Hawaiian Christmas tune Mele Kalikimaka. The all adult choir was large enough that the front area of the church was filled to the brim.

As the congregation sang Silent Night for its second sing-along tune, the words resonated much louder than the first sing-along song. No one needed a hymn because everyone knew the words by heart.

The next selection was the festive Sleigh Ride, followed by the director’s solo performance. O Holy Night kept those in attendance at their quietest of the evening.

The final selection was A Wreath of Carols. It included a large number of favorite Christmas hymns and tunes.

The final sing-along song Joy to the World was the loudest yet, as the building filled with the words of the familiar tune.

It was great to be an observer at the concert, rather than a participant like other members of my family. It was a time of fellowship and fun at the Methodist Church.

Growing up in that same La Feria congregation, I was witness to many such musical events in that same building.
I am thankful that the school district has a choir program that can showcase the talents of our young people. I am also appreciative of the fact that the district recognizes the importance of the music and arts department.

In the words of H.C. Anderson… “Where words fail, music speaks!”

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