With the Hendrix College Choir Candlelight Carol Service celebrating its 40th year, it occurred to me that in four years of college, I sang in 36 services from my seat in the alto section. Add the number I’ve seen and heard from the congregation, and I have attended as many Candlelight Carol Services as there have been years to attend them, all packed into the last dozen years. The memories range from irreverent to sacred, and from pinpoints in time to recurrences that arc over the years:
- Driving back early from Thanksgiving break to decorate Greene Chapel.
- Adding a Chrismon tree to the tradition, and making the ornaments ourselves.
- Getting enough reservations made for family.
- Working on perfecting the pronunciation of Latin, German and, occasionally, English.
- Waiting for the processional while struggling to keep quiet during the prelude.
- Trying not to drip wax on the carpet.
- Keeping the sleeves of your angelic white cotta away from open flame.
- Making sure the little old lady in the back row can hear you when you read the Scripture lesson without a microphone.
- Taking a turn at candle-changing duty after the service.
- Beginning with a single solo voice, and ending an hour later with eight-part harmony.
- Answering truthfully about what we really wore under those choir robes.
- Stopping by the library after the service to sing a quiet carol in the rotunda.
- Taking final exams between the on-campus services and the tour.
- Going on tour and discovering that not all church organs are created equal.
- Having to choose between staying on pitch and being moved to tears by the beauty bombarding your senses.
- Returning, for the first time, to sit in the congregation instead of the choir; feeling the most intense nostalgia imaginable; remembering every word and note when they sing one of “your” carols.
- Hearing countless people say that it wasn’t Christmas until they’d gone to the Hendrix Candlelight Carol Service.
Amy Meredith Forbus, Carrollton, Texas
Hendrix College Class of 1996
Written December 2004
Photo by Nelson Chenault