December 4, 2023
On Campus

Annual Holiday Tradition Continues

Lessons and Carols for Advent & Christmas 2023 to be presented Dec. 8

With the holiday season now in full swing, Wittenberg will once again host its annual Lessons and Carols for Advent & Christmas on Friday, Dec. 8, in historic Weaver Chapel.

Part of the 2023-2024 Wittenberg Series, the event is free and open to the public with doors opening at 6:45 p.m. Pre-service music provided by Wittenberg’s Chamber Orchestra and Brass Quintet will begin at 7 p.m., followed by the event at 7:30 p.m. As in previous years, the service will conclude with a candlelit singing of Silent Night.

The theme for the 2023 service is “rejoice,” according to Matevia Endowed University Pastor Tracy Paschke-Johannes. Songs, readings, and hymns will connect to the theme, bringing it all together in this beautiful ceremony to ring in the holidays. 

“Our theme ‘rejoice’ focuses on the power of joy in the Christmas season,” Paschke-Johannes said.  “Often, we think about happiness when it comes to the holidays—but happiness can be fleeting.  A difficulty, loss, or challenge can leave us feeling legitimately unhappy even, and especially this time of year.  But joy transcends:  the hope of Christ’s birth and presence in our lives is bigger than an emotion:  it is faith that God is present with us always.  And that, certainly is reason to rejoice!”

The event will include readings by Wittenberg students and many classic compositions, including Amezaliwa Tushangilie!, Angels We Have Heard on High, Ave Maria,The First Noel, Bring A Torch, Glow, Go Where I Send Thee, O Come, All Ye Faithful, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Brightest and Best, Ding! Dong! Merrily on High!, Joy to the World, And Suddenly, Night of Silence, followed by Silent Night. The postlude song will be Joy to the World. In addition, this year’s service will feature many familiar classic songs and hymns, beloved for generations. Music from around the world will also be featured by the choirs. 

More than 50 musicians are expected to perform, including the Wittenberg Choir and the Wittenberg Singers directed by Dr. Elizabeth (Libby) Hainrihar, assistant professor of music and director of choral activities at Wittenberg. Pre-service music will be performed by the Chamber Orchestra, directed by Katie Harford. A brass quintet featuring Dave Leapley on trumpet, Mason Ritchason, class of 2024 from Mechanicsburg, Ohio, on trumpet, Julie Swank on horn, Mike DiCuirci on trombone, and Andrew Jones on tuba will also perform. Student instrumentalists, Mickey Myers, class of 2025 from Huron, Ohio, and Max Benincasa, class of 2025 from Cleveland, Ohio, will be featured on flute and bass guitar, respectively. Additional instrumentalists include Chris Durrenberger, professor of music, on piano, as well as adjunct instructors of music Lisa Grove on oboe, Katie Harford on violin, and Ed Dunlap on percussion. David Weimar, Weaver Chapel organist, will play throughout the service. Laurie Smith, adjunct instructor of music, will accompany the choirs on piano.

Among this year’s readers are Rev. Charmaine Webster, Allyson Gardner, class of 2026 from Berlin Heights, Ohio; Joseph Kuzilwa, class of 2024 from Canal Winchester, Ohio; Ave Ellis; Nichole Kline, class of 2027 from Westerville, Ohio; Alexis Cruea, class of 2026 from West Union, Ohio; and Gabby Baker, class of 2024 from Thornville, Ohio. This year’s torchbearer will be McKenna Boling, class of 2024 from Port Clinton, Ohio.

Lessons and Carols for Advent & Christmas began at Wittenberg in 1984. This beloved annual tradition centers on the light of Christ coming among people during the Advent season. The Wittenberg Department of Music is one of the University’s most active departments with many students (both music majors and non-majors) enrolling in music classes, ensembles, and lessons. With excellent faculty, the department has been an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) for more than 80 years. After graduation, music alumni enter a wide variety of careers as teachers, performers, music therapists, and more. Wittenberg awards several music scholarships each year, available to all students, regardless of major, for orchestral and band instruments, voice, piano, organ and classical guitar.

Lessons and Carols artists for the program are Sophia Paskiet, class of 2027 from Toledo, Ohio; Lauren R. Singery, class of 2027, from Johannesburg, and Nichole Kline, class of 2027, from Westerville, Ohio.

Following the service from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., Wittenberg President Mike Frandsen and Sharon Frandsen will host a reception featuring special holiday treats at the Benjamin Prince House, located at 644 N. Wittenberg Ave.

 A live online stream of the event will be available at

The Wittenberg Series was created in 1982 during President William A. Kinnison’s tenure. Since its inception, Nobel Laureates, scientists, significant literary figures, most of America’s foremost modern dance companies, as well as hundreds of prominent psychologists, educators, economists, writers, theologians, urban planners, and historians, have visited campus to participate.

All events of The Wittenberg Series are open to the public free of charge. Doors open 30 minutes prior to the beginning of each lecture or performance. Below are further details related to each Series’ event.

Remaining 2023-2024 Wittenberg Series Events:

  • Monday, Jan. 15, 2024: Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation (collaboration with Diversity Advisory Committee), 11 a.m. in Weaver Chapel, featuring 2013 Wittenberg graduates Karlos L. Marshall and Moses B. Mbeseha, co-founders of The Conscious Connect.
  • Monday, Feb. 19, 2024: Allen J. Koppenhaver Literary Lecture, 7 p.m., Bayley Auditorium, featuring Hanif Abdurraqib, poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio.
  • Thursday, March 14, 2024: Sauer Symposium, Pastor Drew Tucker, executive director of Hopewood Outdoors Lutheran Camps and author of “4D Formation,” which focuses on vocation for young adults, at 7 p.m. in Weaver Chapel.
  • Monday, March 18, 2024: Tribe for Jazz concert with saxophonist Jon Irabagon at 7 p.m. in Weaver Chapel.
  • Tuesday, April 9, 2024: Leventhal Family Lecture, 7 p.m., Bayley Auditorium, featuring Eli Saslow, currently a writer at-large for the New York Times, who was formerly with the Washington Post

For more information on the Wittenberg Series, click here. To make special arrangements or become a friend of the Wittenberg Series, contact Katie Warber at

Cindy Holbrook
Cindy Holbrook
Senior Communications Assistant

About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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