Vespers Continues as a Longstanding Tradition

By Katie Keyser
Staff Writer

Vespers Candlelight Service, an annual Christmas ceremony, was held in the chapel on Dec 17.

“It is one of about six or eight original all school gatherings, only four of which still survive: opening of school Convocation, Vespers, Baccaluareate and Graduation,” said David Martin, language teacher and school archivist.

One of Vespers’ numerous traditions is Santa’s visit to the faculty children.

“I have been Santa for two or three years,” mathematics teacher Francis deLaurentis said. “I read the children The Night Before Christmas. They all know the story and they all help with the reading. My favorite part about Vespers is sitting up there with the kids.”

Along with the chorus, the faculty children also get a chance to sing.

“Having the little children of faculty and staff members come forward to sing “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” has always been a highlight of the evening,” Chaplain Rosemary Gleeson said.

Another Vespers’ tradition is beginning the service with everyone singing together.

“One of the most magical moments in any culture is when people sing together,” Director of Vocal Music Marisa Green said. “Not only is it a beautiful sound that we fill the room with, but the psychical and mental effect of doing something together with 600 people is really pretty thrilling.”

Each person that enters the chapel is given a candle that is lit later in the ceremony.

“Candlelight services are common at Christmas services,” Gleeson said. “Christmas occurs during the darkest days of the year, and the lighting of candles functions both as a welcome addition of brightness as well as a symbolic recognition of Jesus’s birth bringing light into the world.”

Vespers is an event that allows the present and past members of the Peddie community to come together and celebrate the holidays.

“Peddie’s Christmas Vespers is important not only to help us understand the true meaning of the day but also to strengthen us as a community,” Gleeson said. “It brings us together the night before we all go our separate ways.”

The ceremony marks the beginning of the holiday season for the Peddie community.

“Vespers brings everybody together. It signifies the end of the year and brings in the holiday mood and cheer,” Director of Music Alan Michaels said. “However, most importantly, it brings the community together.  Students, parents, faculty, and other peripheral people to Peddie look forward to it every year.”

A lot of work goes into making Vespers a beautiful and fun ceremony for the Peddie community to enjoy.

“Vespers would take about 50 hours for one man to set-up.  There are 8 people for about 6 1/2 hours of work,” Technical Coordinator John Lucs said. “Vespers is the second most intricate designed event where close to 35 stage decks need to be puzzled together to make the chorus riser system and band platform.”