A popular contemporary Christian author and a well-known composer have teamed up on “One Incredible Moment,” the First Presbyterian Church of Edmond’s Christmas cantata to be performed Dec. 17-18.

Performing a theatrical production will be a new approach for the church’s music program, a departure from its long-standing tradition of presenting orchestra-driven programs.

Under the direction of Terry Attebery and Jim VanHemert, it will include a cast of some 100 singers, period costumes and an authentic, Biblical-era set.

The production will be in the church’s new sanctuary.

The energetic response from the participants and the congregation has exceeded expectations and created a mounting sense of excitement, said VanHemert, First Presbyterian’s music director.

“The first time I heard the opening bars of the music, I knew that ‘One Incredible Moment’ was the work for which I was looking,” VanHemert said. “I should not have been surprised because I have loved the music of composer Tom Fettke for some time. Then when I heard the dialogue, I was sold.”

Attebery, who directs First Presbyterian’s contemporary choir, said the music had a powerful, emotional impact on himself and the singers and he hopes it will evoke a similar response from those in the audience.

Members of the congregation also have responded and contributed to the production in many ways, Attebery said.

As a director, Attebery said, he teaches the music, and the singers learn the words. But God uses both to speak to the listener.

In “One Incredible Moment,” the emotion-filled writing of author Max Lucado is woven with music crafted by the inimitable Fettke to illuminate the people and events — the extraordinary moments — of the night Christ was born. Lucado’s words, taken from his book of the same title, are presented through a narrator, Mary, Joseph and Simeon.

Fettke, composer of beloved anthems such as “The Majesty and Glory of Your Name,” provides a wonderful blend of celebrative songs with selections that are tender and heartwarming. New songs, familiar selections, praise and worship pieces and carols are all beautifully combined in the musical score.

When considering music for this year’s event, VanHemert said he wanted a musical work that would evolve logically and effectively into a theatrical production that would not intimidate the singers or crew.

VanHemert also wanted a piece that would be time manageable.

Because the story of the birth of Christ occurred in Bethlehem where men, women and children of all ages had gathered, it was logical to involve children and teenagers.

“The intergenerational atmosphere of our rehearsals has been energizing as we have seen single family units, as well as two and three generations of families participating in this project,” VanHemert said.

Edmond artist Mary Lou Gresham designed the set, built by church volunteers. To provide more depth perception, the set, complete with arches and storefronts, will have a zigzag pattern, Gresham said.

One Incredible Moment will begin at 7 p.m. both nights — December 17-18 — in the First Presbyterian sanctuary, 1001 S. Rankin. Admission is free.

Free childcare will be available. Hors devours will be served following the productions.

For more information call the church office at 341-3602.


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