Members of the Trinity Lutheran Church Sanctuary Choir prepared for the start of the Advent and Christmas seasons with a moving performance of "The Voices of Christmas."

The cantata featured nearly two dozen choir members and guest performers. They were accompanied by a full 20-piece orchestra.

"It went beautifully. We had a stellar crowd, the largest crowd we've ever had for an Advent performance," said Susan Lovejoy, the cantata director and choir director at Trinity. "People had tears in their eyes as they were leaving. They were telling us that it was a great start to the season."

"The Voices of Christmas" took a unique approach to telling the Christmas story, using a narrator and individual choir members to portray the many "voices" of those who witnessed the first Christmas. Those portrayed included the voice of Isaiah, the prophet who foretold the birth of Jesus; Gabrielle, the angel who visited Mary; Mary and Joseph; shepherds; and the star that led many witnesses to the manger in Bethlehem.

The performance told the story of Christ's birth with both familiar carols and new, narrative pieces written by contemporary composer Joseph Martin. Each song told a unique piece of the Christmas story, from the promise of Christ's coming to the journey shepherds and others made to celebrate the birth.

"The Promise is Near" was a cheerful, celebratory reminder of what the Advent and Christmas seasons stand for in Christianity, promising hope and joy for all. Other songs such as "Chosen Mary, Gentle One" and "Joseph's Song" told the more personal story of Mary and Joseph as they prepared for Christ's birth. Both questioned their part in God's plan, noting that they lived a simple life as a carpenter and carpenter's wife, and asked for guidance.

Narrator Kathy Long noted that while each of the voices in "The Voices of Christmas" played a unique role in observing and sharing the Christmas story, their voices continue on in all who celebrate the Christmas season.

"Together, we are all present at the manger," said Long. "We have all witnessed the birth of Christ. We are the voices of those who have seen, who share the story with those who have not heard."

The cantata ended with the familiar carol "Good Christians, Now Rejoice." The congregation was asked to join the choir during the last verse, and the voices of the choir, orchestra, and large crowd mingled merrily in Trinity's sanctuary.

A freewill offering was taken at the beginning and end of the service. All donations benefited the Lutheran Disaster Relief fund for Hurricane Sandy victims.