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Christmas music sustains the soul
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

Music is such an important part of Christmas. I tip my hat to radio stations that play Christmas music during the season. 

There are songs about Santa and reindeer that make us smile. You can’t hear Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” without tapping the steering wheel as you go.

Then, there are the songs of Jesus, angels, shepherds and wise men. They are reminders of why we celebrate at this time of year.

For 19 years, I have been preparing and delivering the narration for “The Living Christmas Tree” at First Baptist Church on Green Street. They keep having me back,and I’m honored to be there. Not bad for a guy who honed his writing skills in a correspondence course from an ad in the back of a magazine.

Mark Green is the maestro of this event. He compiles the music and, in some cases, creates musical arrangements for both the orchestra and singers. In the weeks before the presentation, he is sort of like an air traffic controller looking at an approaching plane with wobbly wings. Somehow, it all comes together and we land the plane without a problem. I think that can be attributed to divine intervention.

This isn’t a small undertaking.

There are many people involved in assembling the tree, making costumes and sets, and just seeing that our guests feel genuinely welcomed.

Every year, Mark starts watching for church members having babies in the fall. Their little bundle of joy might get to take center stage as Baby Jesus. Some of them sleep through the whole thing. Others have had a well-developed set of lungs and let us hear them cry. Either way, it’s one of those moments that make you feel good.

There are gurus in the church business who might tell you that Christmas musicals are outdated or passé. To them, I say nonsense.

And if we are being honest, there are folks who might tell you that we are not telling the true Christmas story at our church. What’s sad is that some of them are church folks. Again, nonsense or something stronger.

We start out with the prophecy, followed by Mary’s knowledge that she is carrying God’s son, his birth and even his death and resurrection.

When I read the Christmas story, I read it from the King James Version, which was good enough for the king and for Linus in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

I want to invite you to come and join us. I have had friends tell me that they were going through difficult times and the words and music sustained them. Others have said that it refocused the way they approached Christmas.

Yes, there are tickets but they are free. If everybody showed up on the same night, we wouldn’t have a seat for them. The tickets are a way to even out the crowd, where everyone can have a good view.

The performances are this Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 4:30 p.m., and Sunday at 4 and 6:30 p.m.  You can reserve tickets by calling the church at 770-534-7354.

By the way, there are many other local churches with presentations this weekend, go and support them, please.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on