NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – A Christmas tradition returns for its 24th year when the Bethel College German and music departments present the annual Deutsche Weihnachten, a German Advent and Christmas service, Sunday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m. in the Bethel College Mennonite Church.
Merle Schlabaugh, Bethel College professor of German, has been organizing the Deutsche Weihnachten service, which celebrates Advent, the part of the Christian year that anticipated the Christmas season, since 1985.
Admission is free and open to the public, with a special invitation extended to German teachers to bring their language students and German-speaking foreign exchange students.
Presented entirely in German, this year’s traditional German Advent service will include candle lighting, Scripture readings, a meditation, traditional German carol singing and service music by Bethel College choirs and ensembles.
Miriam Friesen, a Bethel College German major from Filley, Neb., will present a brief meditation. Members of the Advanced German class at Bethel will give the Scripture readings: Anne Biermann, junior from Remscheid, Germany; Andrew Findley, senior from Coffeyville; Barry Harrison, freshman from Manchester, England; Stephanie Mauz, junior from Wuppertal, Germany; Zachary Metzler, freshman from Newton; Cassandra Preston, senior from Valley Center; and Terra Wiens, sophomore from Newton.
The Bethel College Concert Choir and vocal ensembles, along with college instrumentalists, will perform German Advent and Christmas works under the direction of William Eash, professor of music. Professor of Music Karen Bauman Schlabaugh will serve as organist. The organ prelude begins approximately 15 minutes before the service.
Choral works include, among others, “Und das Wort wart Fleisch” by Georg Philipp Telemann; “Freue dich, du Tochter Zion” by Andreas Hammerschmidt; “Macht hoch die Tür” by Wolfgang Lüderitz; “Rorate” by Franz Biebl; “Talismane” by Robert Schumann; and “Fröhlich soll mein Herze springen,” an arrangement of a familiar German carol for choir, organ and trumpet by Bethel graduate Reid Kaufmann.
There will be a freewill offering taken for Mennonite Central Committee hunger or war relief projects.
The service ends, as always, with the choirs and congregation singing “Stille Nacht” (“Silent Night”) by candlelight. A reception with German Christmas goodies and hot drinks follows in the church fellowship hall.
Bethel College Mennonite Church is located at 24th Street and College Avenue in North Newton, with both sanctuary and fellowship hall handicapped accessible. For directions, call the church at 316-283-3667.
Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in Forbes.com’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008 and one of only two Kansas colleges listed in Colleges of Distinction 2008-09. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.