Spring 2003 Magazine Archive & SearchMuhlenberg Home

 

CANDLELIGHT CAROLS
BRING COMMUNITY TOGETHER
YEAR AFTER YEAR


BY JEN EPTING’03

 

It’s July; the weather is hot, you can hear the neighborhood kids screaming from someone’s pool, and inside the humble office in Egner Memorial Chapel, the phone rings. It’s someone asking about Candlelight Carols tickets. Tanya Schock, the chapel program coordinator, explains that tickets won’t be available for another three months, and thus the holiday season begins.

Seem ridiculous? Who calls for Candlelight Carols service tickets five months before the event? Apparently, everyone.

“People are just amazingly aggressive when it comes to getting tickets,” Chaplain Peter Bredlau says. “This year our community tickets were gone in less than one hour.”

The Candlelight Carols services are held three times (once on Saturday and twice on Sunday) to a consistently full house. The tickets are available starting at 8 a.m. on October 1, though many try to wrangle some away during the months and weeks prior to that.

You have to wonder what happens during the ceremony to inspire the mania that surrounds its free tickets.

“For some it is an astonishingly beautiful worship service close to their own history and tradition,” outgoing Dean of the College for Faculty Curtis Dretsch says. “For others it is an extremely moving performance. Some find it to be a way to participate in the creation of something wonderful.”

The Candlelight Carols services have been a tradition at Muhlenberg since 1958, when Dr. J. Conrad Seegers was president of the College. The services welcome not only students and faculty, but also alumni, administration and outside community members. Students’ participation is at a maximum; they serve as readers, choir members, crucifers, torchbearers and ushers. But, because the services are always held the weekend before final exams, the stress levels run high in preparation.

“Our students are what make Candlelight Carols,” Bredlau says. “I will always be indebted to those folks. One of the most beautiful things to me is students who sing in the choir because they love it, despite their different faith traditions.”

The Candlelight Carols service is one of the main concerts performed by the College Choir. Though members of the choir come from different religious backgrounds, few opt out of being involved with the service.

“I rarely have any problem with religious conflicts,” says Jeremy Slavin, choir director. “Some think of Candlelight Carols as a worship experience, others as a performance experience.... Both are valuable.”

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