Holiday Music, Drama on the Way…

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Hark Up shot from stage to audienceIn composing these Christmas arts/concert previews, I always feel that I'm rushing the holiday spirit. How much earlier than the actual holiday should we launch into the message so quickly overshadowed by all of the season's commercial pressures?

But with several area radio stations and a couple of cable TV networks already churning out full-time Christmas fare in early November, why not leap into the fray and highlight some events which point toward the Savior's birth. (And at the end of the article, check out a new Christmas song!)


First off, a landmark is reached by the annual production "Hark Up."

Director/founder Chris Hansen was there at the very first Hark Up celebration 20 years ago.

"I remember the opening song 'O Come All Ye Faithful' in rock 'n roll style and the audience went nuts as the piano began the song," said Hansen of the debut at Fair Haven Ministries in Hudsonville.

"We were very blessed by the audience and very encouraged that we had done something very special."

Hark Up -Bob WellsSinger Bob Wells is a regular at "Hark Up" Under Hansen's guidance the multi-media musical production has grown through the years, transitioning to an annual five-show run at the DeVos Center for Arts and Worship at Grand Rapids Christian High School. For several years the original program included comedic parodies of TV shows such as "The Honeymooners."

"The last number of years it's been more of a concert with media and dance. And in the past few we've gone to a stronger front line of singer and soloists," Hansen noted.  (See a song clip from last year's production online).

Several "alumni" from past shows will perform (Glenn Bulthuis, Carly Utoff and Maciek the Magician). And the mass choir is one of the largest ever, directed by Craig York, recently retired from Forest Hills Northern High School.

A total of five show times are available Dec. 6-8. For online tickets.


Among the Christian "popular" music selections:

*Gaither Vocal Band – A Christmas Homecoming, with several special guests – 7pm Thurs. Dec. 5 at Grand Rapids First, 2100 44th St SW. General admission $28.50. Discount for seniors and children. Online tickets

*Steven Curtis Chapman: An Acoustic Christmas, with special guest Jillian Edwards – 7pm Sat. Dec. 14 at Lakes Church/Calvary Christian Schools, 5873 Kendra Rd. Fruitport. Tickets are $35 general admission, with group rates and VIP tickets also available. Visit online

*Building 429 – The band and its "Thrill of Hope" tour comes at 7:30pm Dec. 13 at the Christian Reformed Conference Grounds, 12253 Lakeshore Dr. south of Grand Haven. Tickets are $20, group rates available online.

*Mark Smeby – The singer-songwriter performs at 7pm Dec. 4 at St. Luke's Lutheran Church, 3215 4 Mile Road NW, Grand Rapids. No advance tickets necessary. Visit online.

* Sandra McCracken – The singer-songwriter, with a new Christmas album, performs a free concert at 7:30pm Dec 13 at First Reformed Church, 148 E. Central Ave. in Zeeland. No tickets are necessary.


*"The Messiah" – The Calvin Oratorio Society, Sean Ivory, conductor – 8pm Dec. 6 and 7 at the Covenant Fine Arts Center at Calvin College. Tickets are $31 balcony, $36 main floor. Available online


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*"Behold Our King: A Cornerstone Christmas," featuring various ensembles of Cornerstone University - 7pm Dec. 7 at Christ Chapel at Cornerstone U. in Grand Rapids. Tickets $8, group rates available. Visit online

*Gloria" – A Christmas concert of Grace Christian University – 7pm Dec. 6 at Rush Creek Bible Church in Byron Center. Admission is free. Visit online

* "Sing! An Irish Christmas" with Keith and Kristyn Getty and local choir – 7pm Dec. 21 at Miller Auditorium, Kalamazoo. Tickets $20, visit online  (For groups of 5 or more, call the box office at 269-387-2300).


There are several churches which host annual outdoor nativity programs, most with live animals, depicting the surroundings of the birth of Jesus. Here are several, each one listed is free.

*Jenison Bible Church, 6360 14th Ave. Hudsonville. 6-8pm Fri. Dec. 13, 4-8pm Sat. Dec. 14, 5-7pm Sun. Dec. 15. For more info online

* Trinity Lutheran Church, 3225 Roosevelt Rd. Muskegon, A Christmas Nativity Walk – Beginning at 6pm Dec. 13 and 14 and 2pm Dec. 15 A 50-minute tour covers eight different scenes. Visit online .

*Brookside Christian Reformed Church, 3600 Kalamazoo Ave SE. Grand Rapids. Live nativity presented each evening Fri.-Sun.Dec, 13-15. Two viewings each evening at 7 and 7:30pm. Signing for the hearing impaired on Fri. and Sat. Visit online .

*Ballard Church of Christ, 1633 10 Mile Rd. NW Sparta – 7-8:30pm Dec. 21-23. For more info online


Listen to this re-imagining of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" by West Michigan singer-songwriter Perry LaHaie. It retains the haunting melody of the traditional hymn, yet also wonders aloud how long it will be until the Messiah's second coming. Enjoy online.

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Author Information
Terry DeBoer
Author: Terry DeBoer
Terry is a journalist/feature writer for newspapers, magazines and websites, with a background in radio broadcasting. His usual beat is arts and entertainment, specializing in Christian/gospel music. A married father of two, he is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan Contributing Writer: West Michigan Christian News August 2011 – Present Feature writer: (website and various newspapers) 1988– 2016 -Spotlight New Christian Music Magazine 1997-2008 -Church News Editor, Church Herald Magazine 2004-2009

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