Ring in the holiday season early by attending the Candlelight Carol Service at Hendrix College’s Greene Chapel, a 225-person sanctuary so peaceful and picturesque that it is often reserved far in advance for the weddings of couples who met at the cozy liberal arts school in Conway. The high, wood-beamed ceilings and tasteful stained glass windows serve as a majestic backdrop to the celestial voices of the Hendrix College Choir, whose grins betray deep, easy friendship and a fleeting relief from the stress of finals. The tradition has been running for nearly six decades, and happens this year Dec. 1-3 at 7:30 p.m., and Dec. 4 at 4 p.m.
Though new music is introduced every year, the service always commences with a pause from the organist for a sobering solo that ushers the whole ensemble into “Once In Royal David’s City.” The opening melody leaps with dignity. As each member of the choir, clad in flowing white robes, saunters into the chapel carrying light, the room becomes just a little brighter. Once everyone has reached their resting spot on stage and lit the standing candle that will stay illuminated for the remainder of the performance, the concert begins. The next hour alternates between dispatches from the Christ story and choral tunes spanning centuries. This year’s service includes the world premiere of a new arrangement of “As I Sat on a Sunny Bank” by composer Jerry Hui.
Tickets are free, but must be reserved. Sunday’s service is already sold out, so act fast. Tickets are available here. If you don’t snag tickets in time, Friday and Saturday’s services will be live streamed via the Hendrix College Facebook page. If you can’t make it up to Conway, consider coming to the Little Rock performance on Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Asbury United Methodist Church.