Laughs and pockets of different conversations are heard as a group of 19 girls sit in a semi-circle at First Baptist Church in Truro.
What happened next could almost be described as magical. With Choir Director Bette Pring standing in front of them, the girls immediately go silent and within seconds, they’re performing a chilling version of Carol of the Bells.
Working in harmony, the combination of 19 voices that make up the First Baptist Girls Choir would give anyone within earshot goosebumps.
“I love the moments when the whole package comes together,” said Pring, who has been leading the choir since June 2012. “When the girls really understand what it is they’re singing about and the text becomes meaningful to them, it’s like you can see the light switch on. The music, their voices and the song comes alive and all of a sudden, it’s no longer just about performing. When those things happen, it’s incredibly special.”
On this day, the choir has been practicing for close to three hours. It’s over and above the weekly one-and-a-half hour sessions set aside for practicing.
The choir is getting ready for the annual Lessons and Carols performance hosted by First Baptist Church on December 4. It’s been dubbed the highlight of the Advent season.
“The choir will be performing six pieces throughout the evening,” said Pring. “The service will be divided between congregational carol singing and readings that come from the scriptures of the Christmas story. So the girls will perform a piece, then a reading will take place followed by congregational carol singing and it will follow a rhythm like that all evening.”
The evening will also feature the return of Sandra Somers on piano and the addition of cellist Anne-Janelle Davison.
“We are so pleased to have Sandra coming back to be our accompanist,” said Pring. “She’s done this with us for four years now. This past summer, her family moved to Prince Edward Island but she wanted to come back and we definitely wanted her to come back.
“Anne-Janelle is going to bring a lot to the evening,” continued Pring. “She will accompany us on two or three pieces. Then we hope to have her do some other things during the carol sing as well.”
The annual event is open to the public and kicks off at 7 p.m. Those planning to attend should arrive early so they don’t miss the opening carol.
Pring says the choir will form in the foyer just before 7 p.m. in preparation of their opening carol.
“We also hope to have two young girls help us out during the evening,” said Pring. “They’re not quite old enough to join the choir just yet but we’re hoping they will be our candle lighters for the evening. They will be sitting on the platform and with each reading they will light one of the candles until the entire candelabra is lit on both sides of the stage. We finish the evening in candlelight.”
Because it’s a church service, there is no admission fee. In the past, Pring says they have taken an offering. Last year, all of the proceeds went toward the church’s benevolent fund. The money was used to help those who approached the church throughout the year in need of assistance.
With the performance just a few days away, the choir is set to deliver a show that’s fitting for the time of year.
“There is something magical about this evening. Once we put candles in their hands and send them out, you can almost feel the anticipation in the room,” said Pring. “The congregation at First Baptist has loved this choir for all of its existence. They have always looked forward to the girls singing. It will be fantastic, it will be memorable. The music will really help set the stage for Christmas.”