An evening of song and beauty

Every year, Moravian College (and the associated seminary) have Vespers services for two weekends in December. The nondenominational* service begins with music (chorus, brass ensemble, woodwind trio, guitar ensemble, and flute troupe this year), moves to liturgy (including songs, readings, and prayer), and concludes with more music, partially in candlelight (choir, congregation, brass ensemble, and organ). We haven’t gone often (children squirm), but this year we did.

Before the service began, brass players were up in the cupola, playing for all of downtown Bethlehem to hear.
Central Moravian Church

Central Moravian Church has a gorgeous organ.
Organ in the loft at the church

And, oddly enough, Moravian stars are popular around here. (Sometime, I may do a post on the difference between Moravian and Bethlehem stars.)
Moravian star over the altar

The interior of the church is partially lit by actual gaslight lamps, which do remain on during the candlelight portion of the service, although the electrical ones are dimmed.
Gaslit fixtures

I found the most moving piece of music this year to be Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise. I’m including a YouTube video here, but a single voice honestly isn’t as incredible as what is possible with a full choir.

What are you grateful for today?

* Where nondenominational means nondenominational Christian, not all faiths.

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  1. We went to the first Friday night service this year. I enjoyed it, as I always do, but I prefer last year’s over this. I couldn’t put my finger on why.

    • Interesting.

      Obviously, both the music selection and performers will vary from year to year. Or it could be something as subtle as the weather — not taking refuge from the cold may mean less solace. Not that it’s necessarily anything I might come up with; I’m playing with motivations and influences more because it expands my repertoire. 😉

      Oh, and the reason we went this year (which I neglected to mention above) is my husband was doing the prayer Sunday. So that made it rather special for us, but clearly you wouldn’t have the same resonance. 😉

  2. Ashe Elton Parker

    Sounds like a lovely service!

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