Performances of four classic Christmas hymns by the School of Church Music and Worship of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary have been released as “musical Christmas cards” with the goal of “ministry impact” during a holiday season overshadowed by pandemic, says Dean Joseph R. Crider.
Released on YouTube and other social media platforms over the span of 10 days, each video features students and faculty of the school, with two of the performances using new arrangements:
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” features an arrangement and performance by the Cowden Hall Band, five graduate students and vocalist Susanna Thames, a Bachelor of Worship Studies student in Scarborough College, who wrote the added “gloria” chorus.
“Angels We Have Heard on High” features three piano faculty and Keji Sanchez, a Doctor of Musical Arts student, performing an arrangement by Nathan Burggraff, assistant professor of music theory.
“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is, according to Crider, a “hauntingly beautiful arrangement” performed by the “grand collective” of 80 voices, with four pianos and a cello performing from MacGorman Chapel, while the vocalists recorded in their dorm rooms and homes as a “virtual choir.”
“Lo! How a Rose E're Blooming” features Burggraff and soloist Ben Caston, associate professor of voice, “one of the finest voice teachers anywhere,” says Crider.
The executive producer and musical director of the project was Chuck Lewis, associate dean of the School of Church Music and Worship.
“The past 10 months have been extremely challenging for everyone with the pandemic. For schools of music, the challenges are significantly prominent because so much music is made in community,” says Crider.
“These video projects have given our students an opportunity to make music together, safely, and for the reason they came here to Southwestern—to serve others and glorify Christ through the gifts He gave them. Even though our students enjoyed the process of making the videos, they are more thrilled about the ministry impact of the musical Christmas cards they can send to family, friends, churches, and even the world.”
The performances are also available for purchase in iTunes for 99 cents each.