Prelude to Christmas exalts Christ, showcases Southwestern Seminary’s musical talents as ‘ministry first’

Ashley Allen

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More than 1500 people attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s “Prelude to Christmas” held the evening of Nov. 12 in MacGorman Chapel on the seminary campus and presented by the seminary’s School of Church Music and Worship (SCMW).

“The School of Church Music and Worship is committed to training God called men and women in music, worship and the arts and is guided by the core values of biblical faithfulness, musical excellence and ministry drivenness,” Adam W. Greenway, president of Southwestern Seminary and Texas Baptist College (TBC) told the crowd which included members of the Board of Trustees and the Southwestern Advisory Council (SWAC).

“You’re going to see that on visual display tonight along with the rich stylistic diversity that characterizes the most comprehensive program of training available at any accredited Seminary in North America when it comes to music worship and the arts,” Greenway added.

“We pray that all of us will be reminded of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the most wonderful story ever told, as we hear the Word, [and] as we sing the Word, we worship Jesus Christ to the glory of God the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit,” Joseph R. Crider, dean of the SCMW, told the assembly before the first of the evening’s three parts began. The themes of the three parts included “Prepare the Way of the Lord,” “Who is the One Who Comes?,” and “He is Emmanuel – God with Us.”

Centered around Messianic passages from the Old Testament book of Isaiah, and fulfillment of those passages from the New Testament gospels of Luke and John, the evening showcased over 100 of the SCMW’s undergraduate and graduate students and faculty who joined in leading worship and sharing musical talents through solos and ensembles.

The evening included traditional Christmas songs, including “Away in a Manger,” “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” and “Silent Night,” in addition to more modern hymns such as “Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery” and “Mary, Did You Know?” Selections from George F. Handel’s “Messiah” and Pytor Tchiakovsky’s “The Nutcracker Suite” rounded out the evening.

The Texas Baptist College Band introduced a new song, written and performed by the band members, based on Psalm 145. The psalm, which focuses on the kingship of God, was selected because all the band members “easily gravitate” toward the passage of Scripture, explained Noah Austin, a TBC band member and a Bachelor of Music student from the Austin, Texas, area.

“The song relates to Christmas because Who are we exalting during Christmas?” Austin observed about the song’s lyrics. “Who is our God and King? It’s Jesus. One of my favorite lines in the song is ‘He holds up the fallen, and raises them up, all for His glory.’ I am a fallen, depraved sinner on my own, but Jesus restored me. I’m fallen in my sin nature, but He raised me up to live a new life.”

Nelly Juarez, a Master of Music in Worship Leadership student from Costa Rica, sings in Southwestern A Capella. The ensemble was part of six musical selections during the event. Juarez said her hope was to proclaim the Gospel to the community in attendance.

Having the event open to the community was important because “the Gospel was proclaimed, so it has meant [having] an evangelistic impact on the community,” Juarez said.

While the event allows students in the SCMW the opportunity to share their musical talents and abilities, Crider said the school’s faculty encourages students to see the event as “ministry first.”

“We want people to come away encouraged by the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the miracle of the incarnation,” Crider explained about why the school held the concert. “We don’t have much interest in people being impressed with our talent. We want them to come away being encouraged by our Savior.”

In previous years the SCMW has hosted Carols at Christmas and Keyboards at Christmas and the “Prelude to Christmas” was the first time the school has hosted a Christmas event in November. However, the SCMW plans to host the event again in 2022.

“We are looking forward to next year already and pray that this will be a much-anticipated annual ministry to our community,” Crider added.

“Prelude to Christmas” is scheduled for November 11, 2022.

View the entire program here.