The Northwestern College music department will present its annual Christmas Vespers service Saturday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 2, at 3 p.m. in Christ Chapel. The event is free and open to the public.
This year’s theme, “Nine Lessons and Carols,” is a traditional format for Christmas worship services that dates back to 1880. The liturgy expands the traditional Christmas story of Christ’s birth to tie in the broader biblical narrative of humanity’s fall and God’s redemption.
“This particular version of the Christmas story looks at the big picture,” says Dr. Thomas Holm, professor of music. “It’s gripping to watch it unfold. It’s such a great way to tell the Christmas story.”
Featuring performances by the A cappella Choir, Women’s Choir, Chamber Orchestra, Brass Choir and Handbell Choir, Vespers will display a variety of festive music. Familiar pieces to be performed include I Wonder as I Wander; God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen; Away in a Manger; Go Tell it on the Mountain; and others. The audience will also be invited to sing many traditional carols.
The concert will include the world premiere of Dr. Luke Dahn’s Kyrie, commissioned this fall by the A cappella Choir. Dahn, assistant professor of music, has written compositions heard throughout the United States and abroad.“Vespers is a Christmas tradition for many of our audience members,” says Holm. “People tell us their Christmas season doesn’t really start until they’ve come to Vespers. It’s a favorite concert of the year for many.”
In addition to its musical performances, Christmas Vespers will also include Scriptural readings by Northwestern faculty, staff and students, as well as members of the community.