Opening with a solemn chant in Yoruba, a language native to West Africa, the Academy Chorus quickly produced a lively atmosphere in Cochran Chapel as they gained speed while percussion struck up a rhythm. A few members of Drumline participated in this performance of “Betelehemu,” as it featured a quick and energetic rhythm. The energy of the performance further heightened with the introduction of the Children’s Choir, composed of faculty kids.
“My favorite piece was ‘Betelehemu’ because we got to sing with the Children’s Choir, which is something that was really special. It just encapsulated the whole idea of Christmas and everyone being together. I thought it was amazing,” said Amelia Cheng ’21, a member of the Academy Chorus.
This piece was part of the Service of Lessons & Carols held last Sunday evening. The service was performanced by the Handbell Choir, Fidelio Society, the Academy Chorus, and the Brass Ensemble and featured songs in different languages, including German and Haitian Creole.
“Making sure all of the [vocal] parts were coming together and figuring out the language and the pronunciation of the words [was] hard, [but] when it comes together, it’s just so much fun and so beautiful,” said Emma Brown ’19, a member of the Academy Chorus.
The Academy Chorus opened with the processional “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” The lilting melody of the traditional Christmas carol established the holiday atmosphere. Drawing out each individual word with fluidity, the performers gradually slowed and ended on a low note.
Katharine Wang ’19, a member of the Academy Chorus, said, “[‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’] is my favorite Christmas carol, and I love that we get to sing it every time.”
A highlight of the night was “Noel Ayisyen,” a hymn in Haitian Creole performed by Fidelio, Academy Chorus, Gospel Choir, and the Children’s Choir. Despite their displayed ease and grace on stage, many performers found Haitian Creole hard to pronounce, especially given the short practice time leading up to the performance.
“I like ‘Noel Ayisyen’ because it is very catchy. It’s a very rhythmic and melodic song; it was fun. The Creole [was] definitely the hardest part, though. Blake Campbell [’18] speaks Creole, and she was able to help us out,” said Adaeze Izuegbunam ’20, a member of Fidelio.
The audience in the Chapel rose to sing along with the performers to “Joy to the World.” In the spirit of the upcoming Christmas holiday, the Brass Ensemble concluded the service with cheerful renditions of popular Christmas carols while ushers wearing festive Santa Claus hats stood at the doors passing out candy canes.
“I’ve never [attended] a religious service before. I felt very warm, and there was a holiday feeling to it,” said Jimin Lee ’20, an audience member.