The interior of the new chapel. Sheila Butler | Courtesy

With the con­struction of Christ Chapel, Hillsdale College is devel­oping a sacred music program.

The program will allow stu­dents to study the multi-denom­i­na­tional facets within sacred music, though the exact capacity of the program as a major, minor, or con­cen­tration has yet to be decided. Within the chapel, plans include new music ser­vices such as the tra­di­tional Anglican Evensong.

“The chapel, from pretty much day one of planning, has been planned as a concert venue for the orchestra and choirs,” music department chairman James Holleman said. “So there’s going to be a lot of music in the building.”

With the chapel scheduled to open in 2019, College Pres­ident Larry Arnn, Provost David Whalen, Chaplain Adam Rick, and Holleman are still dis­cussing the specifics of the program.

“Right now, my plan is to make sure we hit the ground running with orchestra, choir, and some reli­gious musical ser­vices when we open the doors of the chapel,” Holleman said. “That then gives us time to decide what direction we want to go in for the sacred music program, whether it’s a major or a minor or a con­cen­tration within the music major.”

Since the project’s beginning, music has played a large role in deter­mining the design and use of the chapel, Arnn said.

“At last count, more than 30 percent of our stu­dents are involved in music,” Arnn said in an email. “The chapel is designed to be the place for their major per­for­mances. It being a chapel, having sacred music there is obvi­ously good. Much of the music we sing and play now is sacred music.”

In addition to the main music per­for­mances, new ser­vices, specif­i­cally the Anglican form of Evensong, will be a con­sistent part of the new chapel.

“Dr. Arnn’s vision is to have sacred music in the chapel,” Holleman said. “That can come in various forms. His Anglican tra­dition deals with Evensong, which is a pretty spelled-out service, but the music can change. He would like to have Evensong at regular intervals in the building.”

Rick has expe­rience with the Anglican tra­di­tional Evensong both as an Anglican cler­gyman and as a cho­rister himself.

“Choral Evensong is a sung version of the Anglican service Evening Prayer in the Book of Common Prayer, and it con­sists of Psalms, two Scripture lessons, and musical responses, and prayers,” Rick said in an email. “The service has some par­allels to the Roman Catholic service of Evening Prayer or ‘Vespers.’ While tech­ni­cally Anglican, the scrip­tural basis of the service would make it acces­sible to anyone from any Christian denom­i­nation. You do not need to be an Anglican to enter into the service.”

The instal­lation of the sacred music program extends the mission of Hillsdale within the Christian mindset of the college.

“The tra­dition of sacred music is deep and wide and a perfect expression of intel­ligent piety, the per­pet­u­ation of which is more than a little important here,” Whalen said in an email.

Despite the plans for the music program still in their beginning stages, Holleman said he is com­mitted to filling the chapel with music as soon as pos­sible.

“We are going to service the college and the com­munity with music from day one,” Holleman said.