Christmas Vespers program to celebrate joy of Christ’s birth


Michael Moore directs the BJU Orchestra and choirs in a Vespers rehearsal. Photo: Amanda Ross

BJU’s Symphony Orchestra and choirs will present this year’s Christmas Vespers, “Joy Has Dawned,” on Dec. 14 at 7 p.m., with a second program at 8:30 p.m. The second program will also be webcast for those not in Greenville wishing to view the program.

The program will open with the well-known “Carol of the Bells,” with the entire orchestra playing, the choirs singing, and the BJU Handbell Ensemble joining in.

“It will open with this big, well-known song with hand bells and everyone singing,” said Dr. Michael Moore, director of this year’s Vespers and a faculty member of the Division of Music. “It will have very high energy.”

After the big opening, the program will be filled with beautiful Christmas music, with traditional Christmas carols, as well as a few less familiar songs, such as “Joy Has Dawned,” the centerpiece of the program, and the French carol “Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella.” Mr. Ed Rea of the fine arts department will accompany the orchestra and choirs on the organ.

Also included throughout the Vespers will be portions of Scripture read by Matthew Jones, a junior theatre arts major, and Anna Brown, a theatre arts GA. The audience will hear sections from the Old Testament focusing on prophecies of Christ’s birth and the familiar Christmas story from Luke 2.

Several Christmas hymns played by the orchestra and choir at the program’s end will invite the audience to join along in singing. All lyrics for these songs will be projected on a screen behind the musicians.

“We want the audience to respond to the message,” Moore said. “We put the interactive songs mostly at the end to reflect that.”

The final song will be “Joy to the World,” with the audience participating. “I don’t want to give away the secret, but it will be unusual and very high energy,” Moore said.

This Vespers will have a strong theme of joy at Christ’s birth. “The program will focus on the Christmas narrative within the larger context of the gospel story,” Moore said. The audience will be encouraged to respond accordingly with joyfulness and hope at the good news of Christ’s coming.