“Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let Earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven, and heaven and nature sing.”
It was a weekend filled with the sounds of the season: holiday concerts, caroling, live entertainment at gatherings that brought friends and strangers together.
At Green Valley Alliance Church on Simcoe Road, the Bradford Filipino Friends and Family Christmas Party welcomed members of the broader Bradford West Gwillimbury community to an evening of music, culture and a potluck dinner, featuring traditional Filipino foods.
Almost 100 people attended, some coming from as far afield as Brampton and the Greater Toronto Area.
“It’s a beautiful gathering,” said Senior Pastor Kent Nielsen. “It’s a real coming together of different cultures.”
Performance ranged from spirituals and folk tunes, to traditional dancers from the Philippines, and young Daisy Enoviso, who delighted kids as Princess Elsa from Disney’s Frozen.
“It’s really wonderful. They put on a wonderful program,” said the pastor. “It’s a major force in bringing people together.”
Bringing people together to celebrate the holiday season was the common theme. There was a full house and an all-ages crowd that came out for performance of The Christmas Chest at Bradford Baptist Church, followed by dessert served café-style.
A presentation of 1:11 Ministries and Flyingbow Music Ministries, The Christmas Chest presented the true meaning of Christmas through ballet, contemporary music, poetry and prose.
Mercy Hope, of 1:11 Ministries, welcomed all to “a kick-off celebrating this amazing time of year” – and a story sharing the message of the season: it’s all about “God’s love,” she said.
There were opportunities for those present to raise their voices in song, joining in Christmas carols that included Go Tell it on the Mountain and Hark the Herald Angels Sing.
There was more carolling at the Bradford Arts Centre at the Voices of Good Will and Good Cheer concert. The centre, located in Bradford United Church, welcomed the local Goldenaires choral group, Kleinburg Treble Makers, and soloists Mark Holmes and Amelia DePiero in a festive evening of song.
From the Goldenaire’s rockin’ version of Jingle Bell Rock, and Holme’s powerful rendition of O Holy Night, to the a cappella Treble Makers’ version of Peter, Paul and Mary’s round A Soalin', and De Piero’s moving performances of Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire and Ave Maria, it was a memorable night.
Singing along on Joy to the World and Jingle Bells, accompanied by pianist Vlad Soloviev, was just the icing on the Christmas cake.