For the Mount Saint Mary College community, the annual Christmas Vespers service of lessons and carols – held this year on Sunday, December 8 – signals the joyous beginning of the holiday season.
The highly-anticipated annual service features lessons and carols like “Ave Maria.” The Mount Saint Mary College Choir, which consists of students, faculty, and staff, were joined by the St. Philip’s Church Choir of Garrison to present the performance. Towards the end of the service, the audience joined in singing “Silent Night,” during which the lights are dimmed and the chapel is illuminated with candles.
The service “speaks to the sense of community, a sweetness and caring for others, that so many at the Mount cherish,” said Durward Entrekin, professor of Music and director of the Mount Saint Mary College Choir.
Entrekin has been conducting and organizing the Vespers Service for more than 25 years.
Aside from the choral pieces, the program for the service remains the same from year to year, including the readings, prayers, and even some of the song selections.
“So few things remain the same in our world, but Vespers is one of them,” Entrekin noted. “It has an emotional high that never gets old.”
The first Vespers at the Mount took place in 1974. Nicholas Valentine, former mayor of Newburgh, was in the audience, and observed that the choir could benefit from classic tuxedos. He has been providing tuxedo rentals for the service from his business, Broadway Tailors of Newburgh, since 1975.