Tis the season to be jolly, and that means Christmas carols are on the programme at many concerts and church services over the next few weeks. At many of these events, even tone-deaf audience members have once-a-year licence to sing along with the choir. First up, and opening their 35th season in Hong Kong, are the Cecilian Singers with a December 11 concert at St John's Cathedral featuring the Asian premiere of Nova Gaudia, a Christmas cantata by David Francis Urrows, and Charpentier's baroque Mass For Christmas Night. The concert (tickets $100 at the door) is a benefit for The Samaritans. Christmas just would not be Christmas without a Messiah sing-along, and this year there are two opportunities to join in Handel's rousing 'Hallelujah Chorus', on December 12 and 13, thanks to the Community Church of Hong Kong. These concerts - to be held on the 75th floor of Central Plaza, and starting at 7pm, are sure to be sell-outs, so book now ($120, tel: 2576-9656). 'Singing along with The Messiah can be anything from a great dance to a choral video game, because the music is bold and dramatic, with an incredible range of emotions,' conductor Jeanette Gallant said. 'Sheet music will be provided and I will explain how everything works, so people can sing along with the Academy Choir,' she added. The Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra and the Hong Kong Brass Ensemble will perform Bach's Orchestral Suite No 2 In B Minor, Corelli's Christmas Concerto, selections from Handel's Messiah and popular Christmas carols in a free concert on December 13, 6pm, at the Union Church. Meanwhile at City Hall, Henry Shek conducts the Hong Kong Chorus in sing-along concerts, titled Joy To The World, on December 16, 17 and 18, promising 'all your favourite Christmas tunes and carols' ($100-$150, Urbtix). The Hong Kong Oratorio Society, with special guest the Hong Kong Children's Choir, presents its Christmas concert on December 19 at the Cultural Centre ($80-$120, Urbtix). The programme includes religious music from France, Christmas carols performed by the choirs, and a carol sing-along. On December 21, it is the turn of Yip's Children's Choir. Same venue, same prices. Numerous enthusiastic local amateur choirs are giving free carol concerts too - among the best-known are the Hong Kong Singers (December 15, 1.10pm, St John's Cathedral), the NOVA Women's Choir (December 15, 1.15pm, Cultural Centre Foyer), and the Hong Kong Baptist Seminary Choir (December 22, 1.10pm and December 24, 6pm, Cultural Centre Foyer). For something a little different, the Provisional Urban Council will be running a Cantonese-language carol-singing workshop for children and parents on December 19 at 3pm in the Sai Wan Ho Civic Centre, as part of its 1998 Christmas Carnival. The carnival also includes two performances (December 24 and 26) of A Christmas Carol, a musical for children, performed by children (in Cantonese) and based on Charles Dickens' famous story of Ebeneezer Scrooge. Christmas Eve church services and carol singing are always popular. Union Church on Kennedy Road has two carols-by-candlelight services planned, at 6.30pm and 11.30pm. At St Joseph's Catholic Church, join in the carol singing at 11.30pm, before midnight Mass. 'We expect it to be crowded,' a church spokesperson said. Across the road at St John's Cathedral, the midnight service will include carol singing. Arrive before 11.30pm to get a seat. If you have still not had your fill, head out to the Tsuen Wan Town Hall on December 26, when the acclaimed Russian State Chorus will sing works by Russian composers, Russian folk songs, and songs for the Christmas season. This ensemble, founded in 1936, has been praised for its 'precision, purity, glory and harmony'. Tickets $60-$150. For details of these and other Christmas concerts, check the listings every Friday in Weekend Entertainment.