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Choir and Christmas Praise

By Daniel Rempel

For many people, Christmas time is full of cheer, friends, family, and tradition. Many families will hold onto yearly rituals such as advent calendars, decorating the Christmas tree, or attending church on Christmas Day. At Providence, there’s a holiday tradition as well. This is the Festival of Christmas Praise, which is coming up on November 28 and 29 of 2014.

As an event open to the public, the Festival of Christmas Praise is an evening of anticipating the upcoming advent season, filled with choral pieces and congregational singing led by the University College Choir, accompanied by the Winnipeg Brass Quintet and organist Robert Neufeld. It celebrates the incarnation and Christ's birth, attempting to bring the audience members into an experience of the divine through music. Year after year, many alumni as well as residents of local communities enter into the chapel to engage in and be immersed by the music of the program.

For Choir President Margaret Johnson, the Festival of Christmas Praise has become a yearly tradition that she waits for with anticipation.

"It gets you into the mindset that Christmas isn't about the presents, but that this is the Christmas story" says Johnson, referring to the songs that will be sung at the event. "We are a community of Christ, so we come together at Christmas time and celebrate him."

Johnson, a senior student, joined choir in her first year, and has never looked back. For her, choir has been much more than a place to rehearse and sing. Johnson describes her time in choir as an achievement of unity and cohesion among the members.

"I love to sing, but I even more so love to sing in a group with people. Through choir, we experience unity – but through music. You each have individual voices, but it's not about individuals, you all sing together. And since we're at a Christian university, it's all about praising the Lord."

Through her time at Providence, Johnson has been on tour with the chamber singers three times, to the UK, the West Coast, and most recently, Brazil. Being on tour has been another way that she has experienced unity in the choir.

"The choir really connects throughout a choir tour,” she says. “As you go throughout the tour, people begin to connect more, you notice that your singing is more together and in tune with everyone. You begin to know each other better, and as a result, you sing together better."

Many students speak highly of the community of students found at Providence, and it is evident through Johnson's experience that this same community feel is evident in the choir. It’s exciting when students are able to find and hone their talents and abilities in their time at Providence. This is the case for Johnson, who admitted that it was only at Providence where she found her voice. And now, having found her voice, Johnson will go on singing and praising the Lord for many years to come.

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