St Joseph Cantata members greeting each other

St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church presents Sing Christmas, a Christmas Cantata arranged by Joel Raney and Mary McDonald. The Cantata Chorus is under the directorship of Sharon Smith McNair. The performance will be Dec. 17 at 4 p.m.

St Joseph’s Episcopal Church is a member of the Worldwide Anglican Communion. It was established in 1873 and is the second oldest episcopal church, and the oldest African American church, in Fayetteville. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982.

A cantata is “a medium length of music for voices with instrumental accompaniment typically with solos, and chorus,” states Oxford Dictionary. The cantata will feature songs such as “Sing Joy,” and “The Bells” which feature piano and narration. “Emanuel, God is With Us” and “Joy of Longing Hearts are also a part of the musical program. The crowd favorites are Motown Temptations’ “Silent Night,” and audience participation with the chorus during the “Hallelujah Chorus.”

The signature piece for the Sing Christmas Cantata is “Tell Out My Soul.” The words reflect Mary’s response to the Angel’s words. The inspirational lyrics are “Tell out my soul, the glories of his Word; Firm is his promise and his mercy sure. Tell out my soul, the greatness of the Lord to children’s children for ever more.”

“St Joseph eagerly looks forward to the annual Christmas Cantata. Over the last twenty years, the Cantata has become a community event. The attendance is high with performances being standing room only,” said Samuel Lloyd, St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church parish administrator. “Under the direction Sharon Smith McNair, many of our choristers come from community churches to join to make this an event to remember each year. This year we have stepped up our game by including an orchestra in the performance. We plan to continue to awe the audience with music at Christmas time.”

Sharon Smith McNair, director and founder of the Cantata Concert, shares her insights. “The annual Christmas cantata has been a tradition at St Joseph’s for more than twenty years,” she said. “It really began at Haymount Presbyterian Church when I was an organist and choir director there. I chose a cantata tradition there and invited the choir from St. Joseph’s to join us. An interesting fact is one member of Haymount has never missed singing in the Cantata each year since the beginning: bass singer Jerome Brown. Every year the choir averages 35 singers from various churches from the community. The St Joseph’s choir members review five or six cantata choices during our annual Choir Retreat in July.

"We rehearse Tuesday and Thursday nights starting in September until production in December. This year we are excited to have a small orchestra to accompany us. Previous to this year, we had a rhythm combo. Sing Christmas is the cantata choice for this year. I call it classical with a twist. Arrangements with traditional Christmas favorites along with hymns, and newly composed pieces make up the work. We always weave in the audience favorites of the Temptation’s Silent Night’ and Handel’s ‘Hallelujah Chorus' from 'Messiah.'”

St Joseph’s Episcopal Church, Christmas Cantata is a Fayetteville Christmas tradition. The musical directorship is Sharon Smith McNair, with arrangements by Joel Raney and Mary McDonald. The orchestration accompaniment is by Michael Lawrence. The Cantata has free admission. Donations are welcome.

To find out more, send an e-mail, visit the website at or call 910-323-0161

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