Imagine 600 musicians — singers, bell-ringers, organ, brass, percussion, strings and winds — dressed in elegant robes, and lit by candlelight singing some of the most ravishing music for the season.
That would describe the over three-decade old tradition of Christmas at Luther, a concert festival that makes a joyful noise to the wonder, the awe and the sheer thrill of the season.
Traditional holiday carols mixed with sacred Christmas choral anthems fill a gorgeously decorated college concert hall, the Luther Center for Faith and Life in Decorah, Iowa.
And if you weren't able to join the some 8,000 people who attended in person, you can still take part as we bring the music right to you when we broadcast "Christmas at Luther 2012: Tidings of Comfort of Joy."
Christmas at Luther Artistic Director Allen Hightower chose this year's theme "Tidings of Comfort and Joy" to symbolize the upbeat and joyous music of this year's concert. With a program as varied as Mack Wilberg's "Angels We Have Heard on High" and the Sanctus from Requiem by Durufle, to a raucous closer "Hodie" by Ralph Vaughan Williams put this small Christian liberal arts in league with some of the best music schools in the world.
The concert begins with a chance for the audience to join in singing one of the all-time favorites Once in Royal David's City.
One tradition that audience members look forward to happens toward the end of the program when the lights go out and the choirs surround the audience. While singing "In The Bleak Midwinter," one by one each chorister lights a candle held by the person next to him until the entire Center is aglow in candlelight — signifying the Messiah's eternal light coming into a dark world.