Christmas in Christ Chapel

Colin MaiwurmStaff Writer

As the semester comes to an end and students prepare for final exams, projects, and essays, a few events have been held in hopes of giving students, faculty, and staff a break. One of these events was from the 3rd to the 5th of December: Christmas in Christ Chapel. This event began in 1973, making this the 49th anniversary. The title this year is “Celestial Wonder, Joy Unfolding”. Stated by the college, “Christmas in Christ Chapel 2022 is a celebration in which heaven, earth, and all creation join Mary and Elizabeth, mothers of Jesus and John the Baptist, to proclaim with wonder, hope, and joy the peace that the birth of Christ heralds into the world.”

From the program: “Our service this year is a bold, dramatic, and lively celebration of the Nativity centered on two thematic ideas. One is wonder, seen in the human fascination with the celestial realm of planets, stars, and the universe beyond our terrestrial reach. The other is joy, heard in the stories of the two mothers in the Nativity story. These women, Mary and Elizabeth, respond in an intimate, personal, and human way to the news of the birth of Jesus.”

Christmas in Christ Chapel consists of an assortment of the Gustavus community coming together to create music, entertainment, and an opportunity to bond with the community. This year, Christmas in Christ Chapel is presented by the Gustavus Choir, Choir of Christ Chapel, Christ Chapel Ringers, Gustavus Symphony Orchestra, Lucia Singers, and dancers. With this recurring event composed of a multitude of diverse groups, tickets for each of the time slots were bought out rapidly. For those who missed out on acquiring tickets, there was livestream footage of the event.

Christmas in Christ Chapel has now been going on for 49 years, but what is the experience of Christmas in Christ Chapel for those who are a part of it?

“[Christmas in Christ Chapel] is one of the most unique musical showcases I can be a part of. It brings me so much joy to perform with 350+ peers that I know share my love and passion for music . . . People all around the world come to watch us share a message of joy and community that could not be showcased with such raw emotion and sense of togetherness in any other way,” said Sophomore Mya Hanson, singer in the Gustavus Choir.

While some participate in this event because their ensemble is required to perform, many have a different take on why they participate in Christmas in Christ Chapel year after year.

“The significance of [Christmas in Christ Chapel] is a time for us to come together to work really hard on something and have it all pay off in the end. Our hard work is rewarded by our grateful and supportive audience, along with the beautiful outcome we get to experience during every performance,” said Sophomore Emi Jono, harpist for the Symphony Orchestra.

Hosting an event such as this requires lots of time and effort. The students who were a part of this event not only put countless hours into Christmas in Christ Chapel, but also had to balance their academic and school life around it leading up to finals.

“It takes a lot of time, hard work, and dedication by so many people to pull this show together. For choir, each individual choir continues normal rehearsals throughout the week (this is an hour and fifteen minutes, five days a week for Gustavus Choir) while we also add in group rehearsals. These rehearsals begin on Halloween, and there is one three hour rehearsal each week until performance week, when we do two full run-through nights and a dress rehearsal. As consuming and challenging as it is to balance the rest of life with [Christmas in Christ Chapel], I can attest that it is worth it for the end product,” said Hanson.

It is speculated that the 50th annual Christmas in Christ Chapel next year will be a “best-of” performance, featuring all of the choir’s best pieces. This will mean a lot of work for our Gustavus choirs, but a huge pay off for the Gustavus choir’s many fans.