Members of Lehighton's Trinity Lutheran Church Sanctuary Choir will begin their preparations for the Advent and Christmas seasons this Sunday, Nov. 25 with "The Voices of Christmas," a contemporary cantata by Joseph Martin.

The service will begin at 3 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran, Third and Iron streets, and is expected to last approximately one hour.

All members of the community are invited.

The cantata service will feature a full orchestra and harp. Approximately 25 members of Trinity's Sanctuary Choir and guests will perform during the service.

"The Voices of Christmas" is a contemporary cantata that retells the birth of Christ through song and narration, focusing on those who were there to witness the first Christmas.

This theme of witnesses and the unique voices of Christmas spills into the modern day, urging listeners to remember that the "voices" of Christmas continue in all who celebrate the season.

"Because Christ was born for all, past, present and future, we are all in some sense connected to the manager," said Susan Lovejoy, cantata director and choir director at Trinity. "We are all witnesses to the good news of his birth, and called to be the voices of Christmas through song and word."

She encouraged all in the area to consider attending the cantata to mark the start of the upcoming Advent and Christmas seasons.

"This is a wonderful way to begin getting ready for Christmas," said Lovejoy.

"Advent is a season for preparing for the celebration of Christ's birth. It's also more than Christ's birth. It's about the realization that he was born to bring us good news, that there is life after death. There's nothing as wonderful as preparing for the Christmas season."

She said the cantata will be one of the few opportunities to view a live orchestra this season without leaving Carbon County. Several orchestra members are local, but others will travel from the Lehigh Valley and New York.

"This is a full orchestra, about 20 instruments including a harp. It is fascinating to watch an orchestra up close and a great experience for kids. It can be very inspiring."

The cantata will feature several traditional carols and hymns, including "The First Noel," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman," and "Adeste Fideles" ("O Come, All Ye Faithful"), and contemporary songs by Martin.

"The afternoon will be structured as a service, with a scripture and a carol or two," added Lovejoy. A freewill offering will be taken to benefit the Lutheran Disaster Relief fund for Hurricane Sandy victims.

The cantata will be narrated by Kathy Long. The "voices" and witnesses of the first Christmas will be narrated by members of the Sanctuary Choir. Soloists include Jacki DePue, Kim DePue, George Markley, Earl Schneider, Stacey Sheckler, and Samantha Stuckley.