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Life and Arts

Creating a holiday mood

There are classics and traditions when it comes to holiday music, but Burbank First United Methodist Church Chancel Choir will not perform the same songs you might hear from a mall loudspeaker. This group has a set of contemporary songs and hymns from long ago.

More than 30 singers and instrumentalists will perform music arranged by choir director Roger Lamb at 3 p.m. Sunday in the church.

The performance will feature the lush harmonies of “Behold the Dark and Bitter Night,” the 2003 winner of the American Composers Forum and Minneapolis-based choral ensemble VocalEssence “Welcome Christmas Carol Contest,” Lamb said.

The choir director has worked as a full-time minister of music since June of 1969 in three states, including North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky. After retiring in 2008 and moving to Valencia with his wife Jennie, he wanted to work in music again and became the choir director at the church in September 2009.


“I think that the choir has an excellent sound,” Roger Lamb said. “You’ll definitely be in the Christmas spirit when you leave. I think you’re going to hear some great music, and I think it’s a varied program.”

He and his wife have worked together in music ministry, with Jennie often playing the organ.

“She’s been quite an asset in my career,” Roger Lamb said. “She helps me, she keeps me organized and she helps me with part rehearsals. She likes to help out in any way she can.”

Jennie Lamb will perform rare carols as an alto on Sunday in the Chancel Choir.


“I would say that what’s unique about this [concert] is that these are not the carols you hear every Sunday in church,” Jennie Lamb said. “Some of the songs are very old.”

One traditional English Christmas carol, “How Far is it to Bethlehem?” also known as “The Children’s Song of the Nativity,” was written by Frances Chesterton to a 16th to 18th century tune, “Stowey.”

The performance highlights music and with solos from instruments such as organ, harp, oboe and guitar.

In addition, the members from within the choir will perform in an ensemble. The women in the choir will sing a song together, and the men will sing a song together, too.

Bass singer Chris Dixon joined the choir in October. The Glendale resident and his wife have belonged to the church for 20 years.

“I had admired what the music and choir had been doing and the leadership of Roger Lamb,” Dixon said. “As the holiday season was approaching I just decided that I really wanted to be a part of it.”

The experience helps him participate in the worship service of the church and makes the Christmas season better, he said.

“The choir has worked really hard for this performance,” Dixon said. “I think everyone will become filled with the spirit of the season, and the coming of Christ is part of all the music.”


In addition to the performance, the Chancel Choir creates music for Sunday mornings and the holidays.


What: Chancel Choir Holiday Concert

When: 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: Burbank First United Methodist Church, 700 N. Glenoaks Blvd., Burbank

Tickets: $10 per person

Contact: (818) 845-1531