- Associated Press - Monday, November 28, 2016

SELMA, Ala. (AP) - The Selma Choral Society has been performing “The Messiah” for 69 years, and many of those performing have a long tradition of kicking off their Christmas season with the performance.

This year’s performance will take place Sunday, Dec. 4 at 3 p.m. at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church and will feature choruses from the first section of the oratorio composed by George Fredric Handel in 1742.

Marcia Edwards, who has been part of “The Messiah” for 35 years, said participating is her way of ministering to the community.

“I love music, and this is how I minister. I minister in music my love for God and my praise for God,” Edwards said. “When I perform, this is what I do to glorify him.”

Edwards, who will also perform two solos, said it’s always exciting to sing for the full audience.

“They look forward to it every year,” Edwards said. “It’s usually a packed house every year.”

Alfred Morelock has also been singing in “The Messiah” for 35 years, and said he enjoys it every year.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute I’ve been there,” Morelock said. “It touches me so much; I’ll start to cry sometimes in the performance . I’ll get choked up.”

Morelock said it’s always a great time for the singers of all different churches to come together to put on the performance.

“I think it’s a tremendous asset to this city that we can just get normal musicians together and practice from six to eight weeks and pull something off like this, it’s remarkable,” Morelock said.

“It shows that the city can work together. . We can get along together despite our differences.”

Morelock said one of his favorite parts about it all is seeing the people and getting to spend time with those he may not otherwise get a chance to see.

“I just enjoy getting together and seeing people that you don’t see all the time,” Morelock said. “Once a year we can all get together and do this and present this to the community.”

A theme between the performers is saying that “The Messiah” is the official start of the Christmas season and it gets them in the spirit.

“It brings in the season of our Lord and Savior’s birth Jesus Christ,” Morelock said.

Sally Dunkley, who has been a participant for 42 years, agreed, saying it’s the beginning of the season.

“For all of us it starts the Christmas season off. It does that for a lot of people in the community and they look forward to coming to ‘The Messiah’ and what the true meaning of Christmas is all about,” Dunkley said. “It’s not all about presents, . it’s all about giving back to the community of the words of ‘The Messiah.’”

Dunkley said it’s all about the lyrics to the music and understanding the real reason for the season.

“The words speak more than the music does,” Dunkley said. “If you listen to the text, that’s what it’s all about. It’s not exactly the melody of the music, it’s the text.”

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Information from: Times Journal, https://www.selmatimesjournal.com/

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