ACU Choir’s annual Christmas Vespers is back to offer students and families a night of worship and music. Vespers took place on Dec. 5 at First Baptist Church.
The concert featured both choral and instrumental performances. ACU’s A Cappella Chorus and University Chorale were directed by Dr. Jeffery Goolsby, the Director of Choral Activities, and accompanied by Jesse Ratcliffe, ACU’s Choral Accompanist, on the organ. The two choirs performed pieces such as “esta noche,” arranged by John Rutter, “Noël nouvelet,” arranged by Sofia Soderberg, and “star carol,” by John Rutter.
On the instrumental side, the ACU Orchestra, along with smaller ensembles, was directed by Dr. Steven Ward, the Director of Orchestra and Bands, and Dr. Brandon Houghtalen, the Associate Director of Bands. They played arrangements such as “at the cradle,” by Edvard Grieg, “allegro from Christmas concerto,” by Corelli, and “alleluja from exsultate, jubilate,” by Mozart. However, music was not the only thing that participants were treated to.
“Vespers is a night of music, Scripture reading, and poetry presented by the Department of Music,” said Dr. Goolsby. “It is a seamless concert, meaning there’s no applause or lengthy gaps in the program while musicians move on and off stage.”
These readings of Scripture and poetry supplemented the musical performances to keep the congregation engaged. This year’s liturgists were Dr. Brad Crisp, the Dean of COBA, Dr. Beatriz Walker, a professor in the Department of Language and Literature, and Dr. Brad East, an assistant professor in the Department of Bible, Missions, and Ministry. Lessons from Isaiah, St. Luke, and St. John were read, along with poetry by Robert Herrick.
Vespers is a city-wide beloved tradition that was unfortunately postponed last year because of COVID. However, Vespers was fortunate enough to make its return this year. Thus making this the first time that many ACU students have experienced the spectacle.
“For many students, it is their favorite concert of the year,” said Dr. Goolsby. “For local Abilenians who come year after year, it helps mark the beginning of the holiday season.”
One choral member, Ben Camp, a freshman physics major from Abilene, Texas, shared his experience.
“You know we only had a few days for all of the choir and orchestra groups to practice,” Camp said. “But we came together and collaborated really well. It was a special experience to perform with all of the different groups from the music department, and I really felt the unity that Christmas brings.”