As the joy of the holiday season is upon us, Wittenberg will host its annual Lessons and Carols for Advent and Christmas this Friday, Dec. 9, in historic Weaver Chapel.
The event is free and open to the public with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. Pre-service music will begin at 7 p.m., followed by the event at 7:30 p.m. As in past years, the service will conclude with a candlelit singing of Silent Night.
The theme for the 2022 service is joy, according to Matevia Endowed University Pastor Tracy Paschke-Johannes. “Christmas celebrates the Incarnation – a word that means ‘God is with us.’ God’s presence brings us joy - a combination of peace, relief, anticipation, and hope. The promise of Christmas joy is that God is fully and forever with us. Joy is a gift for each and every person alive today, and every person who ever has been or ever will.”
The songs, hymns, and readings for Lessons and Carols are woven together to create a beautiful tapestry of this joy Paschke-Johannes notes, especially following two-and-a-half years of physical and emotional separation as a result of the COVID pandemic.
“The joyful promise of God’s presence in the world brings us hope and peace that words cannot even describe,” she said.
Paschke-Johannes is set to lead her first Lessons and Carols event after being named Wittenberg’s new Rev. David and Carol Matevia Endowed University Pastor in August. However, this isn’t her first Lessons and Carols, as she and her family have made it a family tradition throughout the years, attending at least eight times.
“I look forward to our audience, surrounded for an hour by the light of candles and the LIGHT of Christ, to experience a joy that is eternal,” she continued. “I am honored and humbled to be a part of something so traditional.”
The event will include readings by Wittenberg students and many classic compositions, including Stille Nacht, O Come All Ye Faithful, All Creatures of Our God and King, Lo, How a Rose, Infant Holy, Infant Lowly, and Joy to the World. In addition, this year's service will celebrate the music and traditions of many different cultures such as those of Haiti, Poland, Latvia, the Caribbean, England, Spain, and Germany.
Nearly 50 musicians are expected to perform, including the Wittenberg Choir and the Wittenberg Singers directed by Erik Zinter, assistant professor of music. A brass quintet featuring Dave Leapley, Linda Holt, Julie Swank, Mike Dicurci, and Andrew Jones will also perform. Other instrumentalists include Ella Zinter, oboe, and Ed Dunlap, adjunct professor of music, on percussion. David Weimar, Weaver Chapel organist, will play throughout the service. Laurie Smith, adjunct instructor, will accompany the choirs on piano.
Among this year’s readers are Kristina Bryant, associate director for housing operations; Andrew Graff, associate professor of English; Sophia Thompson, class of 2025 from Marion, Ohio, representing the Panhellenic community, Abigail Anderson, class of 2026 from Hamburg, New York, representing first-year students (FYS); Shayne Harris, class of 2025 from Canfield, Ohio, representing Weaver Chapel; Emerson Gill, daughter of Casey Gill, vice president for Student Development and dean of students, who will represent children of the community; Joseph Kuzilwa, class of 2024 from Canal Winchester, Ohio, representing Student Senate; and Sasha Butanis, class of 2023 from Franklin, Ohio, president of the Wittenberg Choir. This year’s torchbearer will be Kai Reeves, class of 2024 from Barnhart, Missouri.
Following the service from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. will be a reception of special holiday treats sponsored by Wittenberg President Mike Frandsen and Sharon Frandsen, at the Benjamin Prince House, located at 644 N. Wittenberg Ave.
A live online stream of the event will be available through Wittenberg’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/wittenberguniversity.