50th annual Christmas in Christ Chapel

Amanda Dewberry-

This weekend Gustavus hosts the 50th annual Christmas in Christ Chapel. Christmas in Christmas Chapel (CinCC) features an orchestra, a dance ensemble, a handbell ensemble, and three choirs. These ensembles come together to perform Christmas songs in a church service-like setting.

This year’s theme is Grace Embodied: Celebrating 50 Years of Christmas in Christ Chapel. Senior Lindsay James from the Gustavus Choir said that the music is “centered around justice and a call for community in times of strife.” Much of the text comes from the Book of Revelation and all the ensembles interact with the idea of New Jerusalem.

Conductor of Gustavus Choir and Music Director Dr. Brandon Dean noted that “there are a few subtle nods toward the history of the service” including the hymn “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” and brass and organ music to “honor the roots of the earliest days of our musical collaboration.” James added that “there are certain hymns and texts that have been repeated throughout the years … that a lot of alumni and people who’ve been before will remember.”

The community and long-standing tradition of CinCC is what makes it special. “I feel like there’s a lot of support from all sides of Gustavus. They come to watch even if they don’t necessarily know people in the show, which is really meaningful,” James said. Because CinCC is more of a church service than a concert, the audience is more like a congregation, according to James. There are “more opportunities for congregation interaction in the performance with hymns, prayers, and readings that the congregation joins in on, making it more connective,” James explained.

The diversity of musical expressions across the different ensembles is a strength of CinCC. Dean described that “each ensemble has a unique ‘voice’ it adds to the service, and I always enjoy how the service is propelled forward through the variety of textures, tones, texts, and ranges.” Christ Chapel Ringer and Junior Kailyn Walukas agreed that the opportunity to listen to all the other ensembles is one of the highlights.

While Christmas in Christ Chapel is a meaningful and memorable experience for those involved, it is also a strenuous commitment. Musicians have been rehearsing since early to mid-October to prepare a spectacular performance. Between the choirs, orchestra, handbells, and dancers, “it’s a giant group effort to bring everybody together and put all the pieces together,” James stated. Walukas added that the large time commitment for rehearsals right before finals “definitely puts a little extra stress on studying . . . but I think it’s worth it.”

However, this time commitment makes CinCC an important bonding time. James finds the rehearsals “really fun because you get to spend a lot of extra time with your choir people.” Additionally, they come together every year the night before the concert holding hands and singing “Silent Night” to try to prepare for the shows.  “It’s really sweet because we are all kind of connected in that moment . . . so it’s kind of a special thing for seniors,” James explained.

Performances are tonight at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 4:00 p.m. The Saturday evening performance will be livestreamed. Tickets are still available for the Scandinavian holiday buffet prior to each show and can be purchased online.



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