Caroling program scheduled in Ripley

RIPLEY — The history of caroling is coming to Alpine Theatre in Ripley on Nov. 26.

Storyteller Susanna “Granny Sue” Holstein and musician Jeff Seager have been a-caroling across the region for more than five years. They are bringing their sing-along folk performance to Ripley.

“Here We Come A-Caroling” is a combination of Christmas carols and the stories behind the songs and will be presentee at 2 p.m. Nov. 26 in the historic Alpine Theatre, 210 W. Main St., Ripley.

Admission at the Alpine is $10 for adults and $5 for senior citizens and students.

“I have always loved carols,” said Holstein, whose mother was a World War II bride from England. “Mom brought many of her English customs and folklore with her to America, especially the Christmas ones.”

That meant she grew up with plum puddings, fruitcakes and a mistletoe ball in the house.

“We also grew up with carols,” she said. “Mom would play them from the beginning of December until the 12th night, and we often sang them as a family. Sometimes we went caroling in our neighborhood.”

The West Virginia History Hero recipient from Sandyville learned that she had a common interest in the songs with Seager, a guitarist from South Charleston. A conversation led to the development of the program.

Seager says they have performed in state parks, libraries and churches.

“Each year we find more songs that have intriguing stories behind them, so our repertoire keeps changing,” he said. “Many of the songs we perform have Appalachian connections. Some are versions of old songs from the British Isles and others were written right here in the mountains.”

Songs range from “The Huron Carol,” from the 17th century Native Americans. It was the first carol written on the continent. Among the more modern tunes, “Frosty the Snowman” was written by West Virginian Jack Rollins. “Silent Night” is popular in multiple languages.

Holstein has been storytelling as “Granny Sue” for more than 20 years. She leads the annual “Do You Believe?” ghost walk through downtown Ripley each October.