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Albs to kick off the holiday season

In a file photo, the Albs are shown preparing for their annual Christmas concert. From left are Louise Wickstrom, Kris Besel, Arlen Foss, Ken Clark and Galen Benton. Clark will not appear in the 2008 concert.

WORTHINGTON -- The Albs will again kick off the holiday season with a Christmas concert at 3:30 and 7 p.m. Sunday at First Methodist Church, with offerings to benefit the Nobles County Christmas Basket Program.

"We enjoy singing. That's why we sing," said Arlen Foss, one of the four people in the vocal-keyboard-brass foursome called the Albs.

The annual Albs concert is the major source of income for the Christmas baskets, and in the past decade, has averaged approximately $2,500 in funding for the charitable program.

The first year the group had a concert to raise funds for the Christmas baskets, more than 800 people showed up and they had to turn people away at the door.

Having two separate concert times allows more people to enjoy the show, which this year will feature sacred and secular Christmas tunes such as "O Holy Night," "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "Silent Night."

"A lot of people have said it's their official kickoff for the Christmas season, because we really get into the Christmas spirit," Foss said. "It's just an all-around Christmas variety show."

The Albs started out as an organist and two pastors, who together had the initials a-l-b. Coincidentally, an alb is also the white linen robe-like garment pastors often wear during church services -- making "the Albs" a good name for a musical group with roots in the church.

Membership in the Albs has shifted somewhat over the group's 20-year history, but currently includes Foss, Louise Wickstrom, Kris Besel and Galen Benton.

The concert, with Darrell Stitt serving as emcee, will include music from the Worthington High School and Middle School strings, under the direction of Melanie Loy, the Worthington Brass and Eric Parrish.

The show will also include a children's sermon, congregational singing, and a skit, "The Office Christmas Party," all with a "Joy to the World" theme.

Refreshments will be served after the 7 p.m. concert by members of the Christmas Basket Committee.