The Story Behind the Music
More than a decade ago, composer David Averbeck had an idea: What if he breathed new life into familiar Christmas carols by changing their melodies so people would rediscover their messages?
God had other plans, and Averbeck’s Sing Joy cantata evolved into something more.
It’s the dramatic musical, This is Christ, which gets its biggest church stage Dec. 10-11 at Triad Baptist Church in Kernersville. Performances begin nightly at 5:30 p.m.
A product of the musical and lyrical talents of Averbeck and his wife Alyece, a former English and Spanish teacher, This is Christ makes the melodic carol updates of Averbeck’s original cantata. But it adds a biblically-based drama woven around characters Anna and Simeon and scripture to ask and answer the question, “What child is this?”
“We’ve become so consumer-minded instead of Christ-minded that we really wanted to emphasize Jesus at Christmas,” Alyece said. “People already know the words of these songs so they already have that connection. But we wanted to take you from Christ being born to the day you will see Jesus and face the question of who He is to you personally.
“This is Christ had to be the title of the musical because Christmas is Christ.”
The daughter of an English teacher and product of a musical family that regularly performed together for church audiences, Alyece met David while a student at West Coast Baptist College in Lancaster, California. They would go on to serve in different ministries before returning to North Carolina and launching His Song Music Publications in 2013.
‘This is the first full musical that we’ve done’
Since then, they’ve written more than 80 original songs, orchestrated and arranged countless other works and provided sheet music and other products digitally to churches in about 30 countries. They played the roles of Anna and Simeon themselves when they premiered This is Christ in 2021 at Fellowship Baptist Church in Durham. They now attend a church locally.
“This is the first full musical that we’ve done,” David said. “The music is so powerful. I know I did not write it but God wrote it through me. It’s a really cool process to be a part of when you see someone else perform something you’ve created and think back to how it started: on a piece of paper many years ago.”
For Triad Baptist, This is Christ met a need when the church couldn’t have separate choir and drama presentations in 2022. NewSong’s “Very Merry Christmas & More” tour took the normal weekend that Jeremy Chandler, Triad’s creative communications director, used for his dramas.
Worship Director Scott Compton knew where to turn. He’d already used His Song Music Publications for orchestration tracks for previous Triad Christmas programs and had not only gone to Temple University with Alyece’s father, Tim Hicks, in Tennessee, but performed with him in The Singing Men of Temple men’s chorus. Alyece also knew Chandler.
“David and Alyece had shared This is Christ with us and so this presented the perfect opportunity to give it consideration,” Compton said. “After listening to the demo, I was really impressed with the way the songs were written and with the orchestration.
“The drama has biblical characters who are synonymous with the birth of Jesus: Mary, Joseph, an angel, shepherds, and Anna and Simeon,” he added. “Our prayer is that believers will be reminded and encouraged and unbelievers will be informed and curious about this baby who was born in obscurity in the little town of Bethlehem, the city of David, who is the Savior of the world and know that This Is Christ, the Lord.”
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