‘Christmas with The Salvation Army’ concert rings in the season in North Texas
By: Brad Rowland
In 1996, The Salvation Army launched an annual Christmas concert in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, first holding the music festival at a concert hall on the campus of Southern Methodist University. The concert eventually outgrew that initial venue, and a partnership was established with Lovers Lane United Methodist Church as the ministry’s new home. Beginning in 2016, the concert took on the title of “Christmas with The Salvation Army,” establishing a model to partner Salvation Army music and arts groups with headlining soloists. That continued in 2021, with a memorable evening of worship, praise, and reflection on December 5, 2021, headlined by performances from Infinity Song and the Dallas Brass Band.
Though the concert took place in virtual form in 2020, in-person activities had to be put on hold out of an abundance of caution. While that experience was certainly missed by both attendees and patrons, the 2021 edition was approached with tangible enthusiasm, in part due to the one-year break.
“There was a real excitement for the Christmas Concert this year, even in rehearsal the week before. We’ve missed these large celebrations, making music and art together, and especially the fellowship,” said Matthew Broome, music director for The Salvation Army’s Texas Division. “The Christmas Concert has always been about sharing with our community; letting them know about all the services The Salvation Army provides and how they can get involved, but also showing the many sides of the Army, especially as we invite the audience to worship along with our area music and arts groups as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.”
“We are so excited to once again join with The Salvation Army to welcome in the Christmas season,” said Rev. Macie Liptoi, associate pastor for Lovers Lane United Methodist Church. “This is a time where we recognize the greatest gift of love from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And as I think about this time, I remember that we couldn’t do this last year. This wasn’t possible. But we held onto hope, sometimes hope beyond hope, that God would provide and here we are… As we begin this evening, let us be reminded that both our hopes and our fears are met in Him. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light… for unto us a Child is born, and to us a Son is given.”
The evening’s program featured multiple sets from Infinity Song, a five-sibling band and music collective founded in New York City. They are known for rich, intricate harmonies, and also display expertise as songwriters, arrangers, and instrumentalists, in addition to singing and performing. Infinity Song performed well-known favorites such as “This Christmas” and “O Holy Night,” in addition to original work.
“This year was unique bringing in a more contemporary group in Infinity Song than our typical brass or vocal soloist,” said Broome. “Their incredible vocal harmonies and updated Christmas arrangements gave a fresh take to our audience, even performing two original songs off their recently released Christmas EP. Their inspiring rendition of ‘O Holy Night’ helped to tie the whole evening together as they prepared our hearts for the message from Major Todd Hawks.”
“Christmas with The Salvation Army” also included several stirring pieces from the Dallas Brass Band, conducted by Dr. Daniel Cook of the University of North Texas, and participation from the North Texas Songsters, North Texas Beginner Band, and North Texas Creative Arts. In addition, Captain Whitney Houston, corps officer in Denton, created an original work of art as the program proceeded. Infinity Song combined with groups from The Salvation Army on multiple occasions, highlighting a clear spirit of collaboration during the evening.
“One of the highlights of our Christmas Concert is the collaboration,” Broome said. “Between the beginner band, songsters, and creative arts presentations we heard from 70 participants from seven corps across North Texas. In addition, Dallas Brass Band, a community group and outreach of The Salvation Army, was also on duty. All of these groups came together in different combinations to share throughout the concert, and even got to perform on three items with our special guests, Infinity Song.”
The teamwork between groups was perhaps most on display during a pair of selections in the back half of the festival. A piece titled “Hark (God Is for Us)” included a crossover performance from Infinity Song and the North Texas Songsters, with the evening closing on a carol medley of “Away In A Manger” and “Silent Night” featuring Infinity Song, Dallas Brass Band, and a powerful use of the in-house organ at Lovers Lane UMC.
Interspersed between artistic selections were poignant comments and reflections from many individuals, including Major Todd Hawks, North Texas Area Commander, who conveyed a powerful devotional moment in challenging all to share the angel’s song and the good news of Jesus Christ’s arrival that is the reason for the season.
“The world needs to hear the angel’s song and receive the peace and the hope and the joy that it brings,” said Major Hawks. “For all of us here tonight and for all of those outside these doors, just imagine if all mankind would truly hear the song and be changed by it.”
Following a challenging period in 2020 that did not allow this gathering to take place, onlookers and participants alike were left with a tremendous experience to help The Salvation Army ring in the Christmas season in North Texas. The evening came to close in fitting fashion as well, with Major Mike Harris, Texas divisional secretary for business, delivering simple words as the more than 300 attendees were set to vacate the sanctuary.
“May you be filled with the wonder of men, the obedience of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the determination of the magi, and the peace of the Christ child.”
Photo Credit: Jay Monteagudo