President Jean Henderson thanked the Cody couple for their gracious invitation and for Robbie’s willingness not only to host but also to co-direct the musical part of the evening together with David Goodwill.
After welcoming the group, Henderson explained Easter Frady and Dortha Townsend, as well as Andy and Patty Hunt, were absent because they have been for some time at the hospital bedside of seriously ill family members and are asking everybody for a special prayer. She then expressed her sadness over the sudden death of the club’s generous patron and board member Debora Huebschman, adding that “Debbie’s kind and cheerful friendship will be deeply missed by all of us.”
Secretary Pat Henley read the minutes of the November meeting and conducted the roll call. Treasurer Terry Barger presented the financial report. He added that the club will transfer a donation to the Music Club Scholarship Fund in memory of Debora Huebschman.
Henderson announced that Frady will direct the club’s “Horsin’ Around” program as a special musical tribute to her friend Huebschman. Because of her background as an equestrian, Huebschman had selected that theme and had offered to direct a program with music around horses in February.
Henley gave details about the “Tennessee Chamber Chorus,” the region’s newest and only professional choir currently being organized. “The group, based in Cleveland, aims to perform vocal music of the highest caliber. The goal is to attract and hire singers from East Tennessee and beyond to bring the finest professional choral art to our area with interesting and innovative concerts,” she explained, asking club members for their financial support and inviting them to the first concert to be held on Dec. 17 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. More information about the group and the upcoming concert can be found on the website: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 816-456-5686.
Starting with the music, Cody explained the program, “A Christmas Carol,” would be a quiz for which he had chosen six well-known Christmas carols and he asked members to guess their titles. Given some sparse clues about the lyricist and/or composer, if known, and a brief hint about the origin of the carol, members had to call out the number of notes they might need to hear on the piano in order to recognize the title of the carol.
A different pianist was standing by for each carol to hit the requested number of keys asked for by the person who responded first. Cody rewarded each of the six winners with a nice Christmas gift door prize. As soon as a carol title had been correctly identified, a detailed fact sheet with the verses of that carol was handed out and the entire group sang several verses of each carol with piano accompaniment.
Starting with a poem that Edmund H. Sears wrote on a cold December day which was set to music by Richard Storrs Willis, Henley told the audience that she could name that carol with only two notes played. When Martha Lessig obliged on the piano, Henley guessed correctly that it was “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear.”
Henderson asked for three notes of an old 16th century carol from England that was sung by watchmen, called “Waits,” whose specific duties included singing Christmas carols and songs at town-sponsored events. With Barger giving the three piano notes, she guessed correctly “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.” With a clue that Mozart had used the melody of this 16th-century Welch carol for a duet for violin and piano, Sheridan Randolph recognized the carol without musical assistance from his wife, Margaret Ann, who remained at the piano to accompany the group.
Mary Ann Borst requested five notes played by Cody to name “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” after learning that the Charles Wesley hymn had been set to music by Felix Mendelssohn.
Although Henderson was readily waiting at the piano, Karen Archer did not request any music to call out the title of an old carol of French origin, “The First Noël,“ which is often misspelled on English sheet music.
Milteen Cartwright needed two notes, played by Karen Archer, to recognize “Away in a Manger,” an anonymous 18th-century American carol hymn with music added by James Ramsey Murray.
Co-director Goodwill closed the program with a Christmas story about a man named Conrad who was waiting for a visit from the Lord Jesus on Christmas Eve. Instead, he answered knocks on his door by a homeless person looking for warm clothing, then by an old woman who was hungry and lastly by a lost child. He took care of all three, but he was sad that the Lord did not visit him, as promised, and he expressed his disappointment. He suddenly heard the Lord’s voice telling him that he had been at Conrad’s house three times that night: as the beggar, as the hungry woman and as the lost child, and Conrad had offered him a warm welcome each time.
Henderson wished everybody a “Merry Christmas” and thanked the host couple and everybody who had contributed to the success of the evening.
Members lingered for a long time to enjoy hors d’oeuvres and punch, prepared by hospitality chairman Cody, and an array of Christmas cookies from the kitchens of committee members Karen Archer and Aggie Scott.