In 1963, under the direction of Robert McGill, the Hendrix College Choir began presenting a service of lessons and carols, modeled after the annual Christmas Eve service at King's College in Cambridge, England. The Candlelight Carol Service has since become an important Hendrix tradition. Each year over 1,200 people attend one of the four on-campus performances during the last week of classes. Immediately following final exams, the Choir tours the region, performing the service at United Methodist churches in Arkansas and neighboring states. Repertoire featured in the Candlelight Carol Services changes yearly, and includes works from the 15th century to the present day.
Enthusiasts of organ music greatly enjoy the service, which features Hendrix College organist Timothy Allen performing works on our splendid two-manual organ, constructed in 1997 by Little Rock organ builders Nichols & Simpson, Inc. (you can read more about the instrument
Now in its 5th year, the Candlelight Carol Competition welcomes submissions from composers of any age or nationality, and results in a winning composition that receives its premiere in the Candlelight Carol Services. This year, composers are asked to compose a new setting of William Blake's A Cradle Song, from his Songs of Innocence. Submissions are due September 1, and will be reviewed by a panel featuring choral conducting professionals and a Hendrix College music major. A winner will be announced on October 1, 2019. Detailed competition guidelines are available here. The winning composer will receive $1,000.00 for their work, plus up to $300.00 in travel reimbursements to attend a service performance.
The 2018 competition was won by Charles West, of England. His carol, On Christmas Night All Christians Sing, was selected from a field of over 75 submissions. Other past competition winners have included Behold, I Come by Janet Wheeler, Gentle Mary Laid Her Child by Alan MacMillan, and A Christmas Lullaby by Edmund Jolliffe. Competition judges in previous years have included Dr. Ryan Board (Pepperdine University), Dr. Deanna Joseph (Georgia State University), Dr. Stephen Caldwell (University of Arkansas), Dr. Dominick DiOrio (Indiana University), and Dr. Matthew Mehaffey (University of Minnesota).