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Citadel News Service
8 Nov 2012

Christmas Candlelight Service to delight for the 75th year

The annual Christmas Candlelight Service at The Citadel will celebrate its 75th year of entertaining holiday audiences Nov. 30 through Dec. 2.

A Citadel and Lowcountry tradition, the annual services begin at 7:30 p.m. nightly in Summerall Chapel on The Citadel campus.

candlelight-serviceCampus Chaplain Lt. Col. Joel Harris said in his 30 years of ministry, including 20 as an Army chaplain, he has never seen a service as moving as the candlelight service at The Citadel.

"Dating back more than 70 years, The Citadel Christmas Candlelight Service is one of the few events that links today's Corps of Cadets, as well as the Charleston community, with their past, harkening to a time when the community would come together to celebrate the season," he said.

The Christmas Candlelight Service began simply in the late 1930s when cadets would gather on the chapel steps and sing Christmas carols for the faculty and staff and their families each evening during the holiday season. Since then, the service has grown in size and participation to become one of Charleston's most defining holiday events.

Under the leadership of then-Citadel President Gen. Charles P. Summerall, the singing was formalized into two services—a Sunday service and Monday candlelight service that combined caroling with performances by the Cadet Glee Club. Since then, the service has grown in size and participation to become one of Charleston's most defining holiday events.

Cadets coordinate the production with Nancy Lefter, director of chorale activities, organist Mark A Bebensee, associate provost for academic affairs, and retired Navy Cmdr. Mike Alverson, director of music. Cadets from the Protestant, Catholic and Gospel choirs, the Chorale, the Women's Ensemble and members of the Regimental Band take part in the annual celebration of the birth of Christ, observing the events of the Advent, the Annunciation, the Birth of the King, and Epiphany through Scripture lessons and carols. Traditional and international favorites are sung, and special highlights include the Procession of Lights.

The hour-long program is free and open to the public. Donations are accepted. Flash cameras and video lights are not permitted inside the chapel. Guests are encouraged to arrive early to secure parking on campus and seating in the chapel.

For more information, call 843-953-5049.

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