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News Release

Moravian College to share Christmas Vespers with statewide audience

PCN, Blue Ridge Communications, Service Electric Cable to air service

Christmas Vespers(Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)—The inspiring music and pageantry of Moravian College’s Christmas Vespers Service will be shared with millions of viewers on Christmas Eve when the Pennsylvania Cable Network airs a broadcast of services recently held in Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The Moravian Vespers Service, one of the region’s most popular and revered Christmas traditions, showcases the acclaimed Moravian College Choir and Women’s Chorus, conducted by Paula Ring Zerkle, director of choral music at Moravian College. The prelude music is performed by the College Brass, Guitar, and Flute Ensemble. The service includes works by Francis Poulenc, Moses Hogan, Daniel Pinkham, Arvo Pärt, Sergei Rachmaninov, and other composers.

The Moravian College Christmas Vespers program will be broadcast on Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) on Wednesday, December 24, at 8 p.m. Viewers can check their local cable listing for the PCN channel in their area. In addition to the PCN network cable broadcasts, Blue Ridge Communications - TV 13 will air a special broadcast of the program on Saturday, December 20, 8 p.m., Sunday, December 21, 5 and 8 p.m., and Wednesday, December 24, 8 p.m. Service Electric Cable - TV 2 will broadcast the program on Sunday, December 21, 5 p.m., and Tuesday, December 23, 5 p.m.

Blue Ridge Communications, TV-13 filmed the Friday, December 12th and Saturday, December 13th services with a 6-camera crew, employing digital audio recording equipment. The recordings were edited into a one-hour program that includes an introduction that briefly highlights the rich history of Moravian College, the City of Bethlehem (The Christmas City), and the long-standing tradition of Christmas Vespers.

The television program was made possible by Mr. Fredrick A. Reinhard, a member of Moravian College’s Board of Trustees. Reinhard is executive vice president of Pencor Services Inc., the parent company of Blue Ridge Communications. “We are extremely grateful to Fred for his generosity and leadership, enabling the College to present its cherished Vespers Services to a wider audience—one that extends well beyond our campus community and the confines of Central Moravian Church,” said Dr. Ervin J. Rokke, president of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary.

"The Vespers Service is an excellent forum to showcase our talented choral singers and, at the same time, the statewide broadcast provides the opportunity for Pennsylvanians to share in Moravian’s honored tradition and enjoy this wonderful music at Christmastime,” said Paula Ring Zerkle, director of choral music.

The Vespers service is an expression of two traditional forms of worship in the Moravian Church, the Singstunde and the Candlelight Service. A Moravian Singstunde (Singing Hour) is a service of music with no preaching. Since the 1720s, Moravians have been known for their worshipful singing. In the service, the music has been carefully selected and arranged to bring the Christmas message without need of a sermon. The Moravian candlelight service originated in 1747 in Marienborn, Germany, when candles with red trimming were distributed at the children’s Christmas service. Bethlehem’s first candle service was in 1756.

The beloved hymn “Morning Star,” traditionally sung with a child soloist, was composed in 1836 by Francis Florentine Hagen, a member of the Moravian Theological Seminary Class of 1835.

The Class of 2007 aided by Gamma Sigma Sigma, hand-decorated all 6,000 Christmas candles during freshman orientation weekend in August. Some 290 friends of the College distribute these candles at the six Vespers services.

For more than four decades, the Moravian College Vespers has been held in Central Moravian Church. The structure, built between 1803 and 1806, is the worship center for Bethlehem’s first religious congregation. It was built to accommodate 1,500 people at a time when the population of Bethlehem was just 580 people. Today its seating capacity is 1,100.

Blue Ridge Communications is a full service communications provider located in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, offering digital cable, video on demand, subscription video on demand, and high speed Internet Access service (ProLog Express). Blue Ridge Communications provides local programming on its Emmy Award nominated local channels, TV-13 and Cable 11. For more information visit: http://www.brctv.com/

PCN is primarily a public affairs network carrying programming on topics and culture that interest Pennsylvania residents. PCN is voluntarily carried on nearly 150 cable systems in the Commonwealth reaching approximately 3 million viewers. For more information, visit: http://www.pcntv.com.

Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college. Visit the Web site at http://www.moravian.edu.