Larry Hagan, a parishioner of and outreach ministries coordinator for Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Utica, has released an album of Christmas tunes entitled “What Gifts Do You Bring?” A portion of the proceeds from every album sold will be donated to Hope House and HealthFriends, two ministries on Utica’s Hospitality Row.
A guitar player from the age of 17 and a longtime member of Our Lady of Lourdes’ folk group, Hagan offers all vocals on the album. Jeff Avalier and Jeff Aderman, his collaborators at J.A. Castle Recording Studio in Utica, provide guitar, keys, drums and percussion.
The nine-track album includes classic songs of the season, such as “The First Noel” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” “I wanted it to be all about the birth of Jesus, not chestnuts roasting and Santa Claus,” Hagan said.
Hagan bills the album as “traditional Christmas songs, done in a contemporary style.” His intent was a bit of evangelism — to appeal to mainstream listeners who might “be attracted to the music and then realize, ‘Wow, it’s about Jesus,’” he said.
The album’s title and cover art reference the biblical kings’ travels to see the baby Jesus, but there’s another meaning for Hagan. “God has gifted me with this talent [for music] and I’m going to use it. Whenever I do and give him glory, it puts it at another level. I like the idea of people sharing their gifts.”
The cover art was another shared gift. The image of the kings mounted on camels and heading toward the star in the east was painted by Hagan’s friend Louis Fraccola. The two met about three years ago at Sitrin Health Care Center in New Hartford, where Hagan conducts communion services and where Fraccola resides. A talented painter, Fraccola has multiple sclerosis and can use only his right hand, Hagan said. “I am absolutely awed by the results,” he added.
Hagan is selling copies of “What Gifts Do You Bring?” for $8; $1 from each sale will benefit Utica’s Hope House, which provides meals and daytime shelter to those in need, and HealthFriends, which provides prescription medication for people without prescription insurance and the means to purchase medication. Copies of the album can be purchased at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, St. Joseph’s Nursing Home, the Utica Catholic Bookstore and Notre Dame Elementary School.