Union’s music department is celebrating Christmas with a free concert Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m.
“A Union Christmas” is open to the public and will be held at the G. M. Savage Memorial Chapel. The event will feature a variety of Christmas songs by student choirs and musicians, including congregational singing and scripture readings.
Union’s practice of combining scripture readings with Christmas carols is inspired by the Anglican Church’s “lessons in carols” tradition, said Chris Mathews, music department chair and director of choral activities. The traditional service begins with readings from Genesis recounting the story of humanity’s fall from the Garden of Eden and the promise of a redeemer. The readings continue through Old Testament prophesies and the New Testament story of Christ’s birth. After every scripture reading will be a musical selection that relates to the passage.
“A Union Christmas” is more loosely structured, Mathews said, and has only four scripture readings, coming from Old Testament prophesy, New Testament stories of Christ’s birth and passages that point to Christ’s second coming.
The University Singers, Proclamation, the men’s choir, the women’s choir and the children’s and preparatory choirs will be performing in the concert. The University Orchestra and Symphonic Band will also play in the concert, along with music professor Terry McRoberts on the organ and the Angelic Union Harp Ensemble.
Each ensemble or choir has just one to three weeks to prepare for the concert, Mathews said.
Realizing the concert’s audience usually comes to celebrate Christmas, the songs are “lighter fare, and more enjoyable, perhaps, than educational,” Mathews said. The choirs perform “academically rigorous” songs, and some are written in different languages or represent a wide range of literature.
Faculty and students make up most of the concert’s attendees, but several community members come every year, he said.
The day after the concert on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 10 a.m., the university orchestra and singers will present a “Christmas Gift to the Community” concert in the chapel. The event will be free and open to the public.
The Jackson Symphony has hosted the “Christmas Gift to the Community” concert for the last 25 to 30 years and has used Union University singers, but Union is hosting this year with permission from the symphony.
A high school choir from Dyersburg will be guest singers, and high schools and elementary schools are bringing their students to enjoy the concert, Mathews said.