Holiday songs and Christmas carols are extra special — we only hear or sing them once a year! There’s nothing better than memorable music to put you in the holiday mood. Here’s a wonderful opportunity for you to celebrate with songs this year!

Photo courtesy of The Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) Choral Society

By Peg Cameron Gill

The Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) Choral Society in Joplin will perform its annual Winter Concert on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023, at 3 PM at First Community Church, 2007 E 15th St., in Joplin. 

 Choral Society Conductor Melissa Belk, and accompanist Clint Newby, lead the community-based 60+ member Choral Society and will present its holiday program with music that all ages will appreciate.

The concert includes several favorite holiday works from “O Holy Night” to “Jingle Bells” (with a twist!) to “Joy to the World” and the grandeur of Benjamin Britten’s arrangement of “Personent Hodie,” among other selections.

According to The, many of the best carols come from a collection of songs called Piae Cantiones. Piae Cantiones ecclesiasticae et scholasticae veterum episcoporum (in English Pious ecclesiastical and school songs of the ancient bishops) is a collection of late medieval Latin songs first published in 1582.

You might know “Personent Hodie” as “On This Day, Earth Shall Ring,” but as with every hymn, the English version’s not nearly as sophisticated and authoritative as it is in Latin.

A special addition this year includes a bell choir accompanying the chorus and playing additional music – talk about ringing in the holidays!

The event is free, and open to the public. Donations will be gratefully accepted.

The idea for the ensemble came from its first conductor, Professor Emeritus, Dr. Al Carnine, who realized there were no vocal ensembles available in the area for adults desiring to sing in a non-professional, non-select mixed choir. Thus, the Choral Society had its first rehearsal in the spring of 1980 and has been delighting community audiences with 3 concerts a year – the holiday season, late spring, and in the summer.  

A wide variety of literature is covered including both sacred and secular selections ranging from classical to Broadway. After Dr. Carnine’s long tenure, Professor of Music, Dr. Susan Smith, conducted the group until her retirement. The Choral Society is now directed by long-time area music educator, Melissa Belk. For more information, please contact Wally Bloss.

For other festive holiday ideas, check out these articles: Discover the most unique Christmas lights in our state. Learn where you can buy unique and whimsical wooden Santas – hand-carved by a Columbia artist! And try holiday recipes that are a delicious departure from the tried and true. 

For hundreds more events, visit Missouri Life’s Event Calendar.