The Choral Evensong service in the chapel on Sunday, Feb. 2, was a sung version of Daily Evening Prayer from the 1662 “Book of Common Prayer” in England. The service included sung hymns and Psalms as well as the chants of lessons, the Apostles’ Creed, and prayers. Reverend Adam Rick performed as the officiant, sophomore Jack Galsterer as the crucifer, and senior Nathan Messiter and assistant professor of English Elizabeth Fredericks as readers.
“It is an Anglican service by origin,” Rick said. “The appeal of the service for a place like Hillsdale is that even though it’s Anglican in origin, it’s just scripture, psalms, and prayers based on scripture. There’s no celebration of a sacrament, so it’s very ecumenical in who can engage it, who can find it worshipful for them, so that’s one of the reasons why it’s so appealing for those here because it’s so representative of a broad swath of Christian daily prayer traditions.”
Although there are many student ministries who have done religious services in the Christ chapel and the chapel in the Dow Center, the full repertoire by the chamber choir was new for the campus. Fr. Adam added that “it’s certainly been Arnn’s expressed intention” for there to be more Evensong services in the future.
“This service has been sung daily in the cathedrals and colleges of England for 500 years,” he said. “There’s enough music to fill that out, and so a lot of the words would be the same, the scripture readings would be different but Arnn is ambitious, and I’m sure he would be happy with daily, though I’m not sure if we could pull that off quite yet. But certainly I would like to ramp it up over time.”
He said it was important to note that the Choral Evensong is not a performance.
“The service is not a concert. It is a worship service,” Fr. Adam said. “It’s for the glory of God, and I’m sure that he was glorified today.”
Alan Kotlyar, a senior and member of the choir, said the choir started preparing for the service the day before classes started this semester which allowed the choir to make personal connections with each other.
“We use music as a kind of conduit for making connections with each other, and when we’re a tight-knit group, our music sounds better,” Kotlyar said. “We want to sound like we are not individual voices but like we are singing as a whole, we are in sync with each other.”
He said the choir performing a service in the chapel was a milestone.
“It kind of affirms the Christian nature of our college,” Kotlyar said. “If there was any doubt in people’s minds that this was a Christian college or not, you’ve got the college choir – it’s not a chapel choir, it’s not a Christian choir, it’s the choir – if you are a Hillsdale College student and you get into the top choir, you are going to be singing in this service. It is a statement of orientation of the college.”
He also said the chamber choir takes the role of being the musical element of the religious services.
“Arnn has told the choir personally that one of the purposes of the chapel being built is to develop musicality on campus,” Kotlyar said. “It is a place of worship and it is also a place where the choir can perform and where the orchestra can perform.”
In an email to the campus the day following the service, President Larry Arnn expressed his gratitude for those behind the service and stressed the importance of the “excellent work” done by them.
“This particular work is especially important because the chapel is important and because Choral Evensong is one of the purposes for which it is designed,” Arnn wrote. “Join me in thanking them for this extra and exceptional effort. And plan to come to the next Evensong. It is inspiring.”