The 2018-19 Wittenberg Series continues at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, 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 directed by visiting director, Katherine Harford; and the Wittenberg Handbell Choir directed by Kent Brooks, who for many years has been the director of the IMANI Gospel Choir, which will join the ensembles in this service for the first time. David Crean of St. George’s Episcopal Church, Kettering, will serve as organist for the service, while Adjunct Instructor Laurie Smith, piano, will accompany the choirs.
This year’s theme, “Out of Darkness, Comes the Light,” serves as a reminder that even in the darkest moment, the light of God’s love still shines. This juxtaposition is evident in the musical elements of the service.
Following the orchestral overture of O Holy Night, the first song, Indodana, speaks to Jesus’ darkest hour, underscored by the movements of a dancer, Isabelle McClure ‘21. Yet the light is never extinguished, and as soon as the song is complete, the light is spread from one to another, filling the chapel, while the choirs sing a song of affirmation, Jesus Christ the Apple Tree.
The music continues to move from the minor to major mode throughout, as in Watchmen Tell Us of the Night, which frequently shifts from G minor to G major. Many selections recall the light that has come into the world, such as the IMANI choir’s Emmanuel, which means “God with us,” and the Handbell Choir’s Rise! Shine! Your Light Has Come, both written by Director Kent Brooks, as well as Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella and We Three Kings, arranged for this service by Director Erik Zinter.
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, your light that guides shepherds and kings from afar, shimmer in the sky so empty, lonely, 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 Pastor Alyssa Mazzei of First Lutheran Church, Springfield; Josh Moore, assistant dean of diversity and inclusion; Gabe Courey, assistant professor of economics, Carola Thorson, vice president for enrollment management, and her daughter Ella; Deacon Dan Jacobs ’10, ministry associate in Weaver Chapel; and Maklayne Vitovich ’19, president of the Wittenberg Choir.