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History of the Moravian University Christmas Vespers

History of the Moravian University Christmas Vespers Banner featuring black and white image of large congregation from behind holding up candles in the dark.

Coming Together

So what is it that makes The Moravian University Christmas Vespers so special? According to Dick Schantz, he says “…in the end, it is the spirit of collaboration and the concept of Vespers as a college community effort that makes Vespers so special. There is a lot of collaboration. There is a spirit of community involvement there in that it brings the whole institutional family together… I am sure candle lighting is a major major element in bringing together these people. You can’t help but to feel warmer – even if by physical laws – when you’re surrounded by hundreds of candles.”

Not everyone realizes how much collaborative work goes into organizing the six Moravian University Christmas Vespers services. Each year, there are hundreds of people involved behind the scenes in the planning and preparation, which begins literally as soon as the last vesper service ends. But whether you helped make candles or spent countless hours rehearsing with the choir, once you have raised your candle and been part of 1,000 voices singing “Morning Star, O Cheering Sight” you cannot help but feel a bond with those around you because you are now a part of this beautiful and moving tradition. The Moravian University Christmas Vespers tradition is the perfect spiritual high note to end the college semester and to begin the Advent season.

On a related side note, ever since the first Moravian Christmas Eve Vigil in 1756, pure beeswax candles have been used. Some people think that the candles are made by dipping, however they are actually made using a mold (see bellow), which is a much more efficient process. The manufacturing of candles has always been a task that has been handled by volunteers, students, and sororities. According to one report from 1980, it took the Sigma Tau Sigma and Alpha Phi Omega sororities approximately 10 weeks to make 1,000 candles. Today however, now that the Vespers services annually accommodate up to 6,000 guests, this daunting task is graciously handled by the university's incoming freshmen during new student orientation.

Vespers 7

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