It is that special time of the year for Moravian College’s oldest tradition to flourish once again: Vespers.
Throughout the fall semester Moravian’s music department works hard to put on the moving traditional service, which this year will take place on December 6, 7, 13, and 14 at 8 p.m and on December 8 and 15 at 5 p.m.
In addition to the music and the hymn-singing with candles, Vespers will also feature passages read by Moravian College students and faculty, as well as by Moravian College Chaplain, Rev. Jennika Borger.
As always, this year’s Vespers will showcase the musical stylings of the Moravian College Choir, Chorale, Vocalis, and the Women’s and Men’s Chorus. Under the direction of Dr. Paula Ring Zerkle, The Moravian College Choir includes approximately 75 women and men who are either Moravian students, alumni, faculty, or community members. In order to join the Moravian College Choir, members must also be a part of Women’s or Men’s chorus.
The Chorale will perform a more intensive repertoire, and Vocalis, an even smaller and mixed acapella vocal ensemble, will present numbers in array of styles, including early music, classical, and vocal jazz.
For this year’s Vespers services, the Moravian College Choir will be performing “Glow” by Eric Whitacre; “Gloria in excelsis Deo” by Franz Josef Haydn; “Rise Up,” a traditional spiritual arranged by Dr. Paula Ring Zerkle; “Behold the Lamb of God” by Fredrik Sixten; and “Salseo” by Oscar Galián.
The Men’s Chorus will debut a piece entitled “Peace” that was composed by Moravian College composition student, Liam Mulligan, and that will also feature Elliott Guido on the cello. The Women’s Chorus will also be debuting another piece entitled “L’Heure exquise” by another composition student, Cora Castor.
Vocalis is composed of Moravian College students Elaine Ramirez, Lauren Steinert, Regina McElory, Marc Bernal, Liam Mulligan, Andrew Miller, and Benjamin Sanchez. They will be performing “O magnum mysterium” by Francis Poulenc. Lastly, the Chorale will be performing “This Little Light of Mine” by Moses Hogan.
Per tradition, the Vespers service will start with a musical prelude. This year’s prelude will feature Brass Ensemble, directed by artist-lecturer Larry Wright. They will perform “Almand and Galliard” by William Brade and “Past Three O’Clock” as arranged by Roger Harvey. The Flute Troupe, directed by artist-lecturer Robin Kani, will also perform “Christmas Concerto” by Arcangelo Corelli; the guitar Ensemble, directed by artist-lecturer John Arnold, will perform “Sleepers Awake” by Johann Sebastian Bach
Under the direction of artist-lecturer Stephen Reisteter, the Clarinet Choir will present“Thou Child Divine,” arranged by Stephen Reisteter, and “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern,” also arranged by Stephen Reisteter.
Some of the small ensembles that play in the prelude switch off every year in order for other classical ensembles to have the opportunity to perform in Vespers. However, some groups like Flute Troupe and Brass Ensemble perform every year.
After the performances, the lights will go down and the candles will come out for the traditional hymn sing that is a favorite of a lot of Vesper attendees. And then the selected “Morning Star” child soloist will appear, a Moravian Vespers tradition.
It is certain that this year’s Vespers service will put you in the holiday spirit and will again live up to expectations.