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St John's Hosts Sing-a-Long Messiah

Huntington village church plays host to a centuries old holiday musical classic.

It's been just over 270 years since people have been singing Handel's Messiah.

And it's been nearly that long since residents of the Huntington area have been calling St John's Episcopal Church one of their spiritual homes.

The Huntington Choral Society joined the two together, holding their 27th annual Messiah Sing-a-Long at the 1745 church on Main Street Monday night.

More than 100 vocalists -- many from the society itself but also quite a few who came just because they enjoy singing Handel --were on hand to raise high the roof of St Johns with a body of work that has been a fixture in choral singing since 1741. 

In addition to an annual Messiah Sing-Along, the Huntington Choral Society does holiday caroling at local nursing homes and Huntington Hospital, and participates in various town and community events such as the Heckscher Park Summer Arts Festival.

But the annual Messiah program is one of their signature moments and this week's performance was no exception.

Led by conductor Steven Finch, who has directed the choral society since 1984, bass, tenor, alto and soprano sections sang the arias from Handel's work, accompanied by organist Carol Weitner, from the pews in the nave of St Johns. Between arias, Finch narrated the solo parts, and generally kept things moving with friendly banter and insight into the origins of the libretto for the work.

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During a much needed break in the action -- and well before the chorus even got to the work's most famous aria -- Finch explained that the Choral Society has made it a practice to move from venue to venue over the years, in order to share their love for Handel's work widely.

Ford Spilsbury, who admitted he's been singing at the event for many years, said he enjoys that fact. "Every church is different," said Spilsbury. "The position of the organ. The acoustics. It makes it a lot of fun."

Then it was back to the pews with the rest of the singers for round two of the singing. After all, there was still a Hallelujah chorus to be sung.

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