Surrounded by choir members, musicians and an audience full of singers, Evelyn Shursen said the effect was like listening to music in stereo, with “sound in every direction.”
Shursen was the emcee of the Stettler United Church’s annual carol sing, hosted the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 17, and featuring a total of eight choirs and singing groups.
The event attracted upwards of 175 people to the church sanctuary, and Shursen said it provided ample evidence of the wealth of musical talent to be found in the Stettler community.
“We can share with one another the gifts that we’ve been given,” she said, “and it brings joy to everyone.”
Shursen proved a most enthusiastic emcee, leading the audience in singing and occasionally calling for a halt to the proceedings, in good humour, when she detected that a song was off to a poor start.
The evening began with “Silent Night,” introduced by pianist Cassidy Braun, and continued by the core trio of musicians — pianist Elaine Hennel, organist Doug McKay and bassist Dave Carstairs — that led most of the audience’s singing that evening.
The crowd was encouraged to sing a variety of songs, ranging from traditional standards like “What Child is This?” and “The First Noel,” to popular songs like “Winter Wonderland” and “Marshmallow World,” to newer hymns like “Still, Still, Still” and “Hope is a Star.”
The Heartland Belles, a group of red-hatted singers who meet weekly at St. George’s Anglican Church, were the first on the program, accompanied by pianist Maxine Frickleton, singing “Come On, Ring Those Bells” and “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
Next up was the Erskine United Church choir, led by pianist Evelyn Strandquist, singing “Gentle Mary Laid Her Child” and “Advent Alleluia.”
The Happy Gang, which meets regularly to sing for residents at the Stettler Hospital and Care Centre, performed “You Are My Sunshine” and “White Christmas,” led by Hennel at the piano.
This was followed by the St. George’s Anglican Church choir, led by Strandquist, singing “Mary, Did You Know?” and an arrangement of the Lord’s Prayer.
Strandquist then led the Stettler Senior Singers in several songs, among them “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” “Ring the Bells” and “Come On, Ring Those Bells.”
Up next was a quartet consisting of two couples, Dave and Barbara-Lynn Goodwin and Jan and Bob Richardson, accompanied by Doug McKay on piano.
The quartet sang “Christmas Dreams,” after which Dave Goodwin performed a solo of an original song of his, entitled “A Christmas Lullaby.”
McKay and the choir from St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church then performed three songs: “All About Christmas,” “A Moment in Time” and “Baby, What You Gonna Be.”
The final group to perform was the Stettler United Church choir, led by Stursen and accompanied by Hennel on the piano. They sang two songs: “A Special Night,” and “O Holy Night,” joined by Cassidy Munholland on the saxophone.
Stursen led the audience in singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” followed by a closing prayer by Rev. Jan Richardson. Refreshments were served in the Christian Education Wing afterward.