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Posted: December 2, 2011 12:00 a.m.

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Southern Folk Advent Service returns Dec. 3

Prominent theology professor and award-winning author E. Brooks Holifield will speak at Meridian Herald’s eighteenth annual Southern Folk Advent Service on Saturday, Dec. 3, at 4 p.m. at Old Church on the Oxford College campus. Admission is free. 

E. Brooks Holifield is Charles Howard Candler Professor of American Church History Emeritus in the Candler School of Theology and the Graduate Division of Religion at Emory University. Dr. Holifield has written numerous books and articles related to religious history, the history of Christian thought in American, and early colonial American religion. This year, he was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. 

A seasoned preacher and lecturer described by his students as “brilliant” and “passionate,” Dr. Holifield will speak during the Dec. 4 Southern Folk Advent service, which will also present folk, Gospel, and bluegrass music by The Meridian Chorale, the Sonny Houston Band, and noted musical director and composer Dr. Steven Darsey. Congregational singing of folk hymns is an integral part of the Advent service. 

The Southern Folk Advent has become an honored holiday tradition for many since its inaugural service in 1997, bringing southern shape-note folk hymns into a modern liturgy with the use of The Sacred Harp tunebook, an historic hymnal originally compiled in Hamilton, Ga., and published in 1844. The Sacred Harp hymns arose out of the life experience of poor folk struggling to survive in the early 19th-century South.

Built in 1841, Old Church springs from the same era and region as The Sacred Harp itself. Old Church is near Oxford College of Emory University in Oxford, on the corner of Fletcher and Wesley Streets.

Meridian Herald exists to promote the interaction of worship, music and culture, bridging communities and traditions of the past and present. Through worship services, concerts, programs, and publications of exceptional quality and artistic character, Meridian Herald seeks to challenge the church and society to higher ideals of creativity and moral purpose, and to address contemporary society's need for imagination and spiritual depth, while emphasizing the indigenous traditions of the South. Established in 1997, Meridian Herald has distinguished itself as a creative force in the cultural life of Atlanta and the Southeast.

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