For many of our neighbors, the traditional sign of the holiday season approaching is the raising of the Christmas tree. Some have tabletop trees, others have the eight-footers and still others, like Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, put up a tree in extraordinary fashion.

The 33rd Annual Fayetteville Singing Christmas Tree rings in 11-23-11-singing-tree.jpgthe Advent season with six performances starting Thursday, Dec. 1 and running through Sunday, Dec. 4.

The singing Christmas tree consists of a 40-foot tall structure of lights and ribbon that showcases a 90-voice adult choir, 100-voice youth choir and 35-voice children’s choir directed by Dr. Larry Dickens, minister of music at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church.

“All of the music is live. The singers and musicians are local people in our community who you work with and go to school with. It’s a grassroots effort,” said Dickens.

Also performing at the Singing Christmas Tree is the Steps of Faith interpretive dance team, a 20-member contemporary praise team and band, two handbell choirs and a 40-member orchestra. A 57-Rank Schantz pipe organ and Steinway Grand piano accompany the performers.

Snyder Baptist leaders consider Fayetteville’s Singing Christmas Tree a gift to the community. Tickets are free to the public and go very quickly. Snyder Baptist welcomes more than 5,000 people every year for the Singing Christmas Tree.

Dickens said, “It’s not as much about entertainment as it is about worshipping with the entire community. I think people want something to celebrate. This is a way for them to mark the season as something different in their lives, a different time of year. The first song in part two is called “The Yearning.” I think there is a yearning for spirituality during the Advent season that draws them here.”

This is Dickens’ 13th production of the Singing Christmas Tree. Part of the appeal, he says, is the uniqueness of the event.

“The music is very diverse. There are a couple of classical pieces, contemporary praise and worship, black gospel and tradition carols. There is a little bit of everything,” he said.

Snyder Baptist is also conducting a food drive during each performance. Concert goers are asked to bring canned goods for local food pantries. And while you are warming your heart by contributing to the food drive and warming your soul with Christmas music, there will be hot cocoa and cider on hand to warm your belly.

Evening performances start at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday afternoon performances begin at 4:30 p.m. Attendees are asked to arrive 20 minutes before performances. For more information or to order tickets, please contact Snyder Memorial Baptist Church at 910.484.3191 or www.snydermbc.com.

Photo: The 33rd Annual Fayetteville Singing Christmas Tree will be on stage at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church from Dec. 1-4.

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