W&L Hosts Annual Holiday Candlelight Service The Dec. 7 lessons and carols program in the University Chapel is free and open to the public and will also be streamed online.
Washington and Lee University’s annual Christmas Candlelight Service featuring the University Singers will be held on Thursday, Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. in the University Chapel.
The performance is free and open to the public and no tickets are required. The event will also be streamed online at livestream.com/wlu.
An annual tradition at W&L dating back more than 80 years, the Candlelight Service has been on hiatus for the past three years due to the pandemic and other University Singers events across the country and abroad. The service weaves together the narration of the Christmas story through music, readings and carols, with music provided by the University Singers, conducted by Shane Lynch, associate professor of music and director of choral activities at W&L.
The University Singers is an award-winning ensemble and continues to be recognized as one of the finest collegiate a capella choirs in the nation. Their annual Candlelight Service appearance is beloved by the campus community, as well as the Lexington and Rockbridge County communities. This year’s performance will feature traditional favorites and modern masterpieces, including F. Melius Christiansen’s “Wake, Awake,” Jocelyn Hagen’s “Mother’s Song” and Elain Hagenberg’s new arrangement of “My Song in the Night.”
The Candlelight Service’s telling of the Incarnation through text and music spans countries and cultures, dating back to 1818, when Edward White Benson, later the Archbishop of Canterbury, drew up a service of lessons and carols for use on Christmas Eve in the wooden shed that served as his cathedral. In 1918, this service was adapted for use in the chapel of King’s College at the University of Cambridge, and by the early 1930s, the BBC had begun broadcasting the service on overseas programming. “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” continues to be broadcast each year from King’s College Chapel at the University of Cambridge on Christmas Eve.
Around the World with the University Singers
Over the past three years, the University Singers have toured across the United States and internationally, performing a wide variety of literature while serving as artistic ambassadors for W&L in concert series, festivals, competitions and conventions. Highlights of their recent travels include:
- Competed in the European Grand Prix of Choral Music qualifier competition in Slovenia in 2021.
- Competed in the 66th Cork International Choral Festival’s International Mixed Voices A Cappella Video Competition in 2021.
- Performed as the featured collegiate choir at the 2021 Virginia Music Educators Association Conference.
- Placed third at the International Open Competition at the City of Derry International Choir Festival in Northern Ireland in 2022.