Annual Vespers rings in the season at the Mount
NEWBURGH, N.Y. – November 2017 – For the Mount Saint Mary College community, the annual Christmas Vespers service of lessons and carols signals the joyous beginning of the holiday season.
The Mount tradition began in 1974 and has been a cherished part of college’s heritage ever since. This year, the Mount community will gather for Vespers on Sunday, December 3, at 7 p.m. On the night of the service, students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the Mount huddle together in the beautiful Chapel of the Most Holy Rosary on campus, anxiously awaiting the first strains of the orchestra. Throughout the night, the chapel is filled with hymns and traditional songs of the season, including “Oh Holy Night,” “Carol of the Bells,” and “Christmas Day,” as well as Bible passages related to Christmas. Towards the end of the service, the audience joins in singing “Silent Night,” during which the lights are dimmed and the chapel is illuminated with candles.
Durward Entrekin, professor of music and director of the Mount Saint Mary College Choir.
takes great pride in heralding the season through the service. “So few things remain the same in our world, but Vespers is one of them. It has an emotional high that never gets old,” he said.
Nick Valentine, the former mayor of Newburgh, also eagerly awaits the event each year. The Mount benefactor is a faithful patron of the service – he’s attended every Vespers but one since 1974. And this year, Valentine’s wife, Susan, was selected to give the eighth reading. After attending the first Vespers and noticing that the male singers did not have traditional choir outfits, Valentine, who owns Broadway Tailors in Newburgh, approached the choir director to offer his services, and has been doing so ever since. “I never looked at this as a donation,” he added. “This is my choice to give to a place that is very dear to me. The Mount means so much to Newburgh.”
“The soloist at the beginning still gives me shivers,” the former mayor noted of the iconic opening, which features a single acapella voice from the choir loft. “There is nothing more beautiful than that hymn. It stays with me.”
CAPTIONS: The annual Vespers service at Mount Saint Mary College, led by Durward Entrekin, is a tradition that marks the beginning of the Christmas season at the college. This year’s Vespers service will take place December 3. Photos by Lee Ferris.