The 39th annual deGraffenried Chorale Christmas concert will be this weekend.

The free event will once again be at the United Methodist Temple, starting at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

"We hope we can fill the Temple," said Mary Beth Dowden, the director of the Chorale. "This is such a great tradition for Russellville. We're thankful that we've been able to do this every year since 1978."

This year the Chorale will be performing and brand new piece of music composed just for them.

Sarah Fox, the daughter of accompanist Susan Fox, wrote the song "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" based on the poem of the same name by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

"It's quite an honor to be able to perform a piece that was written especially for us," Dowden said. "Sarah was able to be here at our rehearsal over Thanksgiving week and talked to the chorale about the poem and the piece and it was really exciting."

The song is dedicated to the memory of Ryan Kemp and uses handbells

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and the organ. The soloists for the piece are Iris Perez and David Atkins.

In addition to the original work the Chorale will be performing a wide variety of other Christmas music.

Two of the songs are very Kentucky oriented - "The Cherry Tree Carol" which features John Kees and Frank Walton as soloists as well as the Kentucky mountain carol "I Wonder as I Wander."

There will also be a pair of ancient songs that were first published in 1592 - "Gaudete" and "On This Day, Earth Resounds."

Of course there will also be several well-known tunes performed on Sunday, such as "Mary Did You Know" with Wade Baker as a soloist as well as versions of "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "Away In A Manger."

The final piece of the concert will be "All My Heart This Night Rejoices" with Ellyn Kerchenski performing on French horn.

"That's the piece that I derived the concert's title from, which is My Heart Rejoices," Dowden said. "That song is just lovely in expressing the meaning of the season."

In addition to Susan Fox and Kerchenski, there will be several others playing instruments to accompany the Chorale. They include Betty Sayre on keyboards and Tom O'Kelley on drums and percussion.

"It's a good mix between ancient music and the contemporary; as well as familiar and not so familiar songs," Dowden said.

The concert is always free to the public, but donations are accepted to help the Chorale keep going.