The 2019-20 Wittenberg Series continues at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, with the annual Lessons and Carols for Advent and Christmas service at Wittenberg University’s historic Weaver Chapel. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the event, which is free and open to the public with pre-service music beginning at 7 p.m.
More than 100 musicians are expected to perform, including the Wittenberg Choir and the Wittenberg Singers directed by Assistant Professor of Music Erik Zinter; the Wittenberg Chamber Orchestra led by visiting director Katherine Harford; Wittenberg’s IMANI Gospel Choir, directed by Kent Brooks, adjunct instructor of music; a faculty brass quartet, which features adjunct instructors David Leapley, Colvin Bear, Denver Seifried, Andrew Jones; and David Crean of St. George’s Episcopal Church in Kettering, who will serve as organist for the service. Adjunct Instructor Laurie Smith, piano, will accompany the choirs.
This year’s theme, "He is Coming Soon," speaks to the mixed emotions experienced during the seasons of Advent and Christmas. Similar to a child counting down the days to Christmas, we feel incredible joy in celebrating the birth of Christ, but the wait is sometimes unbearable, and we get impatient. The opening music sequence darts back and forth between the impatient longing found within Spirit Moving over Chaos and Nimrod, to the overwhelming joy of All Creatures of Our God and King and Where Riches is Everlastingly. Similarly, the cry, O Come, O Come Emmanuel is answered with Freedom is Coming.
Perhaps no piece captures this duality greater than Lost in the Night. In this Nordic hymn, the author is at times anguished with the thought of waiting, finally lashing out, "Will not day come soon?" A simple and hopeful promise follows, "He is Coming Soon." This promise comes to fruition in the piece, Climb to the Top of the Highest Mountain, where the voices sing, "He will love the little children, He will hold them in his arms. Love him and trust him as a child. Behold, your Lord comes to you."
The service concludes with a second lighting of the candles while the choirs sing in Night of Silence, “Spirit among us shine like the star…rising in the warmth of your Son’s love,” interposed with the congregation’s singing of Silent Night.
The chapel will be prepared by David B. and Carol Matevia Endowed University Pastor Rachel Tune. Readers were selected from faculty, staff, and the community. Among this year’s readers for the service will be Michelle Mattson, provost; Julius Bailey, professor of philosophy and director of justice, law, policy and African/Diaspora studies; Cynthia Atwater, pastor of High Street Methodist Church, Springfield; Andrew Steele, assistant vice president for advancement and director of campaigns; Doug Schantz, director of the Office of Student Financial Services, his sons, Cole and Evan; and Sarah Knobeloch ’20, president of the Wittenberg Choir.
A live online stream of the event will be available through Wittenberg’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/wittenberguniversity.
Now in its 37th year, the Wittenberg Series brings distinguished lecturers and performing artists of national and international prominence to the Wittenberg campus and Springfield community. To make special arrangements, request a Series poster, or become a friend of the Wittenberg Series, contact Lisa Watson at WatsonL4@wittenberg.edu. All Wittenberg Series events are free and open to the public. Doors open 30 minutes prior to the beginning of each lecture or performance. Below are further details related to this year’s Series.
2019-2020 Wittenberg Series Events:
- Monday, Jan. 20, 2020: Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation, 11:15 a.m., Weaver Chapel, featuring Freeman A. Hrabowski III, educator, advocate, mathematician, and president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Q & A, 2:45 p.m., 105 Joseph C. Shouvlin Center for Lifelong Learning.
- Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020: Comedy and improv show featuring The Second City, 7:30 p.m., John Legend Theater at The Dome, 700 South Limestone Street. For mature audiences.
- Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020: Allen J. Koppenhaver Literary Lecture, 7:30 p.m., Weaver Chapel, featuring Charles M. Blow, journalist, commentator, and New York Times op-ed columnist. Q & A, 4:30 p.m., Bayley Auditorium.
- Monday, March 30, 2020: William A. Kinnison Endowed Lecture in History, 7:30 p.m., Bayley Auditorium, featuring Eric H. Cline, author, historian, and professor of classics, history, and anthropology at George Washington University.
For more information on the Wittenberg Series, click here.