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Meridian Herald to present annual Southern Folk Advent Service Nov. 30

OXFORD — Kicking off the holiday season, the Meridian Herald’s 21st annual Southern Folk Advent Service returns to Old Church.

The service starts at 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 30, with the addition of new performers.

Opera star Morris Robinson and Atlanta tenor Timothy B. Miller, famed for his appearances at Atlanta Braves home games, will perform “The Morning Trumpet” backed by the Meridian Chorale, directed by Steven Darsey.

“Those two singing is something new we’ve added this year and they’re going to bring the house down,” Darsey said.

The service will also feature bluegrass-Gospel music from the Sonny Houston Bluegrass Band and a message from theology professor and author E. Brooks Holifield.

Holifield is Charles Howard Candler professor of American Church History Emeritus at Emory University. He is a renowned scholar, speaker and author on American religious history.

Since the first service in 1993, Southern Folk Advent has become an honored holiday tradition. A form of lessons and carols, the service is based on folk hymns from the historic Sacred Harp tunebook, compiled in Georgia in 1844.

“It’s always an honor to come to Oxford and put on a worship service that reflects the songs from our native state,” Darsey said.

The tunes are presented in various formats with the Meridian Chorale singing some in original arrangements and the congregation singing others both a capella and with folk instrumental accompaniment.

The hymns arose from the life experience of the poor struggling to survive in the South during the early 19th century.

Darsey’s Georgia heritage and research on the Sacred Harp tunebook have engendered a deep love for this music.

Built in 1841, Old Church springs from the same era and region as The Sacred Harp. It sits near Oxford College of Emory University in Oxford, on the corner of Fletcher and Wesley streets.

Admission for the service is free.

Darsey’s Meridian Herald organization presents the Southern Folk Advent program each year. Meridian Herald works to emphasize the indigenous traditions of the South, as well as presenting programs with spiritual depth regarding society and the church.

If you go

What: Southern Folk Advent

When: Nov. 30 at 4 p.m.

Where: Old Church, at the corner of Fletcher and Wesley streets near Oxford College of Emory University in Oxford

Cost: Free