Offering a time of music and reflection as the Advent season unfolds, Wittenberg will host the annual Lessons and Carols for Advent and Christmas on Thursday, Dec. 9 and again on Friday, Dec. 10 in historic Weaver Chapel.
The event is being offered over two days this year in adherence with COVID-19 protocols so as to limit the total number of people in attendance, including those performing, to 400 each evening. Tickets, while free, will be required for the event and may be obtained through Event Brite here or by calling the chapel office at 937-327-7411. In addition, all attendees and participants will be required to wear a face covering. Doors will open at 6:45 p.m. for each event, with the service starting at 7:30 p.m. As in past years, each service will conclude with a candlelit singing of Silent Night.
“Due to COVID-19 protocols, the service will be quieter and more reflective this year,” said David B. and Carol Matevia Endowed University Pastor Rachel Tune. “Each event will be about an hour long, with a simpler processional. Ensembles are smaller due to COVID, and we will be using battery-operated candles instead of ‘real’ candles to avoid people taking off their masks all at the same moment.”
The theme, “Love has Come,” captures the joy and hopefulness of the Christmas season. The service will prominently feature the metaphor of a rose. From the cover art, to the scriptures read, to the lyrics within the music, the rose signifies love – love that came down to Earth in the form of the infant Jesus. The rose also speaks to the hope the season of Advent brings. Just as the seed buried beneath the cold snow will blossom into a flower again when the ground thaws, humanity has the promise of new life that gives us hope. Many classic songs including O Holy Night, Carol of the Bells, Patapan, and Carol of the Drum, will be interspersed with contemporary pieces and congregational carol singing. Those present will also have the opportunity to view the program cover artwork designed by Hope Messer ’24 and Maddy Marsengill ’23 with assistance from Deacon Dan Jacob ‘10.
Nearly 75 musicians are expected to perform, including the Wittenberg Choir and the Wittenberg Singers directed by Erik Zinter, assistant professor of music; the Wittenberg Chamber Orchestra led by visiting director Katherine Harford; Wittenberg’s IMANI Gospel Choir, directed by Shanté Leslie ’22, a music major; a Handbell Ensemble, directed by Samuel Bennett ’22, a music and environmental studies major; and a Faculty Brass Quartet, featuring adjunct instructors Jett Walker, David Leapley, Colvin Bear, and Andrew Jones. David Weimer, Weaver Chapel organist, will play throughout the service. Laurie Smith, adjunct instructor, will accompany the choirs on the piano.
Readers were selected from faculty, staff, and the community. Among this year’s readers for the Thursday night service are Ruby Gaertner, representing the young people of our community; Sharon Evans, director of the Greater Grace Counseling Center; Rev. Dr. Anders Tune, Matevia Endowed University pastor; and Corrine J. Carthell, associate dean of students and director of McClain Center for Diversity. Friday night readers include Jenna Weimer, daughter of chapel organist David Weimer; Katie Maxfield, librarian/assistant professor of the Thomas Library; Joseph Kuzilwa ’24, interfaith senator; Evelina Chandran ’22, ELCA International Women Leaders Scholar, and Molly Moran ’22, Wittenberg Choir president. All will assist with the readings on both nights.
Immediately following each service, a brief reception sponsored by Wittenberg President Mike Frandsen and Sharon Frandsen, will take place in room 105 of the Joseph C. Shouvlin Center for Lifelong Learning.
A live online stream of the event will be available of Thursday's event through Wittenberg’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/wittenberguniversity.