{mosimage}For 30 years, Snyder Memorial Baptist Church has given new meaning to the term “live Christmas tree.”
    There’s absolutely nothing artificial about the church’s 45-foot tall Singing Christmas Tree that will be populated by human Christmas ornaments come Dec. 4-7. And these ornaments are musical: One hundred singers will climb aboard steel risers arranged in the shape of a Christmas tree to welcome the holiday season with sounds of joy.
    The Christmas tree singers are just a part of the whole show, which includes a total of 250 singers, a 40-piece orchestra and two hand-bell choirs. The singers will perform traditional Christmas carols, such as “Joy to the World,” “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” and “Silent Night.” However, Larry Dickens, minister of music at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, said there will be plenty of variety in this year’s Singing Christmas Tree program.
    “We will be performing about 15 songs ... everything from Bach chorales to Brooklyn Tabernacle,” said Dickens. “We will also be performing three original pieces by Dan Goeller, who has written movie soundtracks and is now composing Christian music.”
    Dickens said the choir will also perform the hugely successful song “The Prayer.” The theme of the show itself, Imagine, is based on the popular contemporary Christian ballad, “I Can Only Imagine.”
    “The show seems to get bigger every year,” said Dickens, who is in his 10th year as minister of music. “It’s really grown in recent years because we’ve added teen singers who had been absent from the program for about 15 years.”
    Speaking of the past, as part of the show’s 30th anniversary the man who started the Singing Christmas Tree, the retired former original director of the music program, Bob Hayes, will conduct the first song of the evening. Also, Linda Schafer, who has been the church’s organist for 40 years, will be performing her final Christmas show as she prepares to retire.
    “The pipe organ has 3,000 pipes, so it puts out a really massive sound,” said Dickens. “And we’ve updated the sound system.”  
    In addition to the “wall of sound,” more technology has been utilized to make the show as spectator-friendly as possible, including the implementation of two giant, wide screen TVs to ensure everyone in the church has a good view. 
    More than 1,000 music lovers will show up for the program, including folks aboard charter buses traveling all the way from western North Carolina.
    “This show is famous all across the state,” said Dickens. “People come from far away.”
And even though the shows are free, Dickens says all the advance tickets are gone, which means almost every pew will be filled.
    “We are always able to squeeze in some more people,” said Dickens, “but I advise getting there 40 minutes early for the show.” 
    The performance dates are Thursday and Friday, Dec. 4-5, 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 6-7, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. For more information about the Singing Christmas Tree, please call 484-3191.

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