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Christmas Cantata celebrates coming of Christ

BATAVIA – David Newhouse said Sunday's Christmas Cantata in Batavia demonstrated the meaning of the Christmas season with the birth of Jesus.

Through music and scripture, the Christmas Cantata carried the audience from the beginning of mankind to the birth of Christ with "The Word Became Flesh."

Newhouse, directing pastor of the Batavia United Methodist Church, said Sunday's show was the first to be held at the Batavia Fine Arts Center, but said partnering with the Batavia High School Music Department has been a tradition.

The show consisted of bell-ringers, a choir and an orchestra directed by Ellen Anton. Admission was free.

Newhouse said Sunday's cantata, which paired music with scripture, was the contextual meaning of being Christian and a way to inspire members of the community to know how blessed they are.

"The important part is to be able to extend witness that God is here," he said. "The core of the Christian faith is that we're not alone."

Narrator Bob McPeek read scripture to help guide the audience from the time Adam and Eve graced the Garden of Eden to Mary and Joseph being visited by angels foretelling the birth of Christ. A choir sang Christmas hymns, from "O Come All Ye Faithful" to "Gloria in Excelsis Deo," and words appeared on a large screen behind the performers to allow the audience to sing along.

The show consisted of nearly 100 performers, 20 of whom were Batavia High School musicians.

Newhouse, who started his position with the church in summer of this year, said Anton approached him before he even started his new job with the idea of bringing the cantata to the fine arts center.

"I really didn't know what to say other than, 'why not?'" he said.

He estimated that 400 to 500 people attended the show. He also said he was very grateful for the help of the partnership with Batavia High School students, the church members and for the venue.

"I know they put hours and hours and hours of preparation into this," Newhouse said. "But to pull all these pieces together in terms of the bell ringers, the choir and the lead musicians – I think it's a miracle and a wonderful gift."

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