PLEASANT GROVE — From “Masters in the Hall” to “Love Overflowing” to the “Tiny King,” the audience sat mesmerized by the talented large choir of adults, a choir of young people, a small choir of Primary-aged children, and an incredible array of talented performers in the orchestra who took the audience on a melodious journey of the "Christmas in the Grove: Joyous Musical Celebration of the Birth of the Savior” on Sunday, Dec. 15.
“Christmas in the Grove" had its beginnings at the stake center and then moved to the American Fork Tabernacle for the next 18 years,” said Kathryn Laycock Little, musical director and conductor for the event put on by Pleasant Grove Utah Grove Creek Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Apparently, a renovation project moved the concert back to the stake center where, according to Little, “We have come full circle.”
The pre-program began at 6:30 p.m., highlighting a group of women from the choir who sang “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” Jessica Cordner lulled the crowd with “Cannon in D” on her harp. The orchestra flooded the audience with the Christmas spirit with “Nativity Carol.” Then, Caleb Lyons shared his interpretation of “Bring a Torch” on an organ. The end came thoughtfully through Vance Everett on the clarinet with “Still, Still, Still/Meditation on Silent Night.”
To start the main performance, Grove Creek Stake President Dennis Gleason shared words from his favorite Christmas carols. Before he could sit down, the choir, both adults and youths, stood in vigorous unison and ushered in the “Christmas in the Grove.”
The opening piece, “Processional on God’s Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” invigorated with its vibrance.
The congregation even had a turn at singing. Little turned to the audience and explained our role in singing the “Brazilian Christmas Carol.” With a wry smile, she told the audience to “live it up because it’s the only time you’ll get to sing tonight.” And sing they did: “Sing allelu, angles sing: Alleluia!/Sing allelu, Jesus is born on Christmas Day!”
The second half of the “Christmas in the Grove” was just as impressive. The youth choir lulled us with “Soft, Soft,” truly a lullaby to keep the spirit of the evening alive. The adult choir flowed in lovely cadences as they sang the graceful “Whence is That Good Fragrance Flowing?”
As the youth and children’s choirs sang “A Wondrous Birth,” everyone “with one accord, praised the Lord,” while it flowed brilliantly into the “Song of Bethlehem,” whispering “Peace, Be Still” throughout the packed stake center.
And then, Little daintily pulled the microphone to her just before her rendition of “The First Noel.” With great emotion, she quietly said to the congregation: “This is for the choir. You can eavesdrop if you wish.”
Her sweet, strong voice did more than let the audience eavesdrop. They shared in her praise of “The First Noel,” and were immersed in her angelic voice — hearts and minds enfolded in worshipful reverence.
The final two pieces —“Silent Night, Holy Night” and “Savior, Redeemer of My Soul” — was a reminder of why we celebrate Christmas.
An Idahoan, Darrel Hammon likes being outdoors, growing things, and seeing things the way they could be. You can read more of his musings at www.darrelhammon.blogspot.com. He and his wife recently served a mission in the Caribbean Area Welfare Office