Vespers Illuminates the Community

Jin Lee, Daniel Hoffman and Carter Frato-Sweeney, all ’22, singing by candlelight

The Chapel goes dark as small candles slowly illuminate the central pews. To most, this phenomenon may seem obscure, but to a Western Reserve Academy community member, the candles signify the annual Vespers performance. 

The arrival of the holiday season brings many valued traditions at WRA: Toys for Tots, Candy Cane Sales and most notably, Vespers. Vespers is a special holiday concert where candles are lit and songs are sung by both the WRA choir and the festive audience. 

Hosted annually in the Chapel by Ms. Karam and the Arts Department, the hour-long show features various holiday-themed musical performances. After the cherished concert, a family-style meal is served in the dining hall for friends and family to enjoy. However, Vespers represents more than a holiday concert; Broden Windsor ’22 recalls “feeling so good to be in a community again,” seeing as this was the first Vespers since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Remembering it felt “especially special when [they] began to light everyone else’s candles; it was a time to be with those [they] loved and to share light in the darkness.” 

The set list featured holiday favorites such as “Carol of the Bells,” “Babe Born in Bethlehem” and “Can We Sing The Darkness To Light.” Families and friends concluded the festivities with a candle-lighting ceremony. Various faculty members consider Vespers to be tradition to spend time with their kids, like Mrs. Velbeck—Head of the WRA Dance Department: “[Vespers] really is a staple of the WRA Community, and this year I was lucky enough to share the festivity with my two-year-old daughter. She enjoyed watching the students singing and making noise with the bells!” Vespers is truly a cause for family celebration. 

Vespers continues to serve as one of WRA’s most essential traditions, leaving four-year senior, Jimena Oliva, particularly somber. “Vespers was definitely bittersweet this year, being my last time attending. Nevertheless, I was so glad the community was able to be together for this special tradition and the Academy Choir did a spectacular job as always.” It is clear the tradition leaves a lasting impact on the student body post-Commencement.

While Vespers merely kicks off the array of winter WRA traditions, many more await the WRA community, including the upcoming Fire and Ice Festival and Bicknell Bonanza. 

-David King ’22

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