Christmas carol singalong in Pottsville to bring glad sounds to holiday season

Nov. 28—POTTSVILLE — The resounding sound of "Joy To The World" filled the cavernous sanctuary at Trinity Episcopal Church on a recent afternoon.

The pews were empty, but it was not hard to imagine Christmases past when the church was filled and voices rang out in celebration of the birth of Christ.

That is what organist F. Allen Artz III, who was rehearsing, had in mind when organizing the Christmas carol singalong and organ recital called "Hark, the Glad Sound!"

The program, which features Artz on the organ, is set for 3 p.m. Dec. 11 in the imposing cathedral-like church at Centre Street and Howard Avenue in Pottsville.

In its second year, it seeks to recapture the feeling of a traditional Christmas.

"Singing carols puts people in the Christmas spirit," Artz said. "It gets the season off to a start."

The program opens with the audience standing and singing a medley of carols, including the title song, "Hark, the Glad Sound."

A second medley includes "Joy To The World," "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" and "Away in a Manger."

After a 10-minute interlude to stand and stretch, the program will resume with "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and "Silent Night, Holy Night."

An Epiphany medley includes "The First Noel," "What Child Is This" and "We Three Kings."

Calling it a "user-friendly" concert, Artz said the familiarity of the carols enriches the experience.

"There's a connection when you recognize the music," he said. "There'll be no mic needed."

He is hoping the turnout will exceed the 90 voices that filled the church with music in last year's inaugural concert.

"Hark, the Glad Sound!" is part of a series performed by Artz to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the organ.

A longtime member of the American Guild of Organists, Artz served as dean of the organization's Metropolitan New Jersey Chapter.

He is also a member of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians and the American Choral Directors Association.

Over a career that has spanned four decades, Artz held major musical positions in Lutheran and Catholic churches in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

He was music director and organist at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark and Our Lady of Sorrows in South Orange, New Jersey.

Artz was music director and organist at the Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church and conducted the Crescent Choral Society in Plainfield, New Jersey.

A Llewellyn native and 1977 graduate of Minersville Area High School, he holds a bachelor's degree in music education from Elizabethtown College and a master's in organ performance from Montclair State University in New Jersey.

Six years ago, Artz retired and moved to Pottsville.

Proceeds from "Hark, the Glad Sound" benefit the Minersville Area Historical Society. A $10 donation is requested.

Parking is free at the Pottsville Parking Authority garage at Second and Mahantongo streets, near the church.

Contact the writer:; 570-628-6007