Spring 2003 Magazine Archive & SearchMuhlenberg Home

 

CANDLELIGHT CAROLS
BRING COMMUNITY TOGETHER
YEAR AFTER YEAR


BY JEN EPTING’03

 

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“It’s my favorite concert we do; I love doing it every year,” says Cyndi Lavorgna ’04. “It’s a good stress reliever because you’re sitting with a candle and singing Christmas carols; you’re really sharing a Christmas experience.”

Lavorgna has been singing in the choir since her freshman year and has participated in three Candlelight Carols services. She says one of her favorite moments of the service comes during one of the last songs, “Christmas Day.”

“I get goose bumps every time we sing it,” she says.

Goosebumps are a regular at the services; almost everyone who has ever attended can recall the beginning moments of the ceremony when the choir enters by candlelight, singing “Once in Royal David’s City.” The voices penetrate the heavy stone walls of the church, echoing through the pews, creating the feeling that brings so many people back year after year.

“I believe this is one of the loveliest events of the year,” Dean of the College for Academic Life Carol Shiner Wilson says. “The music and setting are always beautiful. The beginning of the service, as the choir and readers sing “Once in Royal David’s City,” is especially powerful. The spiritual tradition honored is extraordinary.”

Perhaps it is this very tradition that attracts audience members as well. Graduates of Muhlenberg appreciate that the consistency of the ceremony brings back fond memories not only of Christmas, but also of Muhlenberg.

“As I look back at my college days, my time spent in both the chapel and the college choirs and in the carol service was not just about music, but about a deepening that took place in my own spirituality,” Rev. Anne (Rukakoski) Roser ’79 recalls. “Without a doubt, the Candlelight Carols service is one of my fondest memories from my college years.”

The Christmas spirit isn’t always found in the people who don’t get tickets, however. Bredlau and Schock often find themselves the targets of frustration.

“We are constantly reviewing our ticket policy,” Bredlau says. “As the Muhlenberg community grows, it will be harder and harder to accommodate walk-ins and alumni. We can’t offer more services because the choir is exhausted. We’re doing everything we can, but we still realize that every year we’re going to disappoint people.”

For those who are unable to get tickets, the services are now broadcast live by WMUH and on the Internet. Additionally, a CD of Candlelight Carols is available in the Muhlenberg bookstore.

“As draining as it is, when I hit the congregation for the opening procession and I hear the choir sing the first note, I get a shiver,” Bredlau says. “Then I relax and say, ‘ok, this is why we do this.’ ”

 

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