NUTLEY, NJ - The sanctuary at Franklin Reformed Church was packed to hear Franklin Reformed Church’s house band doorjam perform Songs of the Season: Songs for Advent and Christmas concert on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 15.

The band covered classic Christmas songs including “Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Joy to the World” and “What Child is This.” They also performed Trisha Yearwood’s “Take a Walk through Bethlehem” and the Barenaked Ladies version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings.”

They also performed classics with what else but the “doorjam spin” to them. The group creates their own arrangements to various classics. “Some songs will seem familiar but not what you expect. You will hear different versions tonight,” said the Rev. Jill Feske, singer and pastor of Franklin Reformed church. Familiar Christmas Carol with an unusual twist performed included "The First Noel" and “Away in a Manger.”

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Original songs included “I Sing the Birth” a song written from the poem that Fenske received in a Christmas card. “Martin whittled down the poem and came up with the melody,” she said.

Fenske reminded the audience that they were in the season of Advent, not Christmas yet. “We are waiting in the season of advent. Advent [means] the season of waiting. We are waiting to receive the birth of Christ,” she said.

Fenske said every year she asks to perform a song she loves, however she said the band is not crazy about. The song “White Christmas and Snow” blends the two songs together. “Every three years they let me get my way to sing,” she said.

Joe Ribaudo took out an Irish drum called a bodhrán for “Snow”, he also played the ukele for “Christmas Must Be Tonight.”

Band members are: on vocals Fenske, Vicky Chalk, Linda Ribaudo and Jainine Gambaro on vocals, Joe Ribaudo on percussion and ukulele; and Williams on guitar.

The group has been performing almost 25 years together. Fenske said they all come from different musical backgrounds, all the women in the group were in the choir, some performed in the marching band and Joe Ribaudo performed in a pop band.

During the concert, Franklin Reformed Church took a free will offering which will go towards much needed repairs in the 160+ year old building at 45 Hillside Crescent. The church’s boiler is on its last leg and will be one of many upcoming renovation projects.

After the concert the audience was invited to join in a “Soup &” in the community house. Thirteen soups homemade by members of the congregation included coconut curry pumpkin, Ethiopian chickpea, Italian wedding, pasta e fagioli, turkey chili, vegetarian Freekeh and Thanksgiving soup.

During the dinner, in separate interviews, the group reminisced on their oddest Christmas gifts.

Gambaro said as a teacher she received a lot of odd gifts. One she received was an odd shaped vase, “It was beautiful and lovely.”

Joe Ribaudo said his was a tingler head massager. “It has little wire fingers and massages your head. I still have it,” he said.

Chalk said she received emergency flashers for Valentine’s Day from her boyfriend. For Christmas she said when she was eight years old she gave her sister a whistle with a monkey and her sister didn’t like it, which made her upset.

Fenske said she received a ceramic fish plate. “I gave it away. I was in college at the time,” she said.

Williams couldn’t think of any odd gifts he received.


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