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Saturday, December 21, 2013


Earlier this month friends and I attended the 34th Annual Augsburg Choir’s Advent Vespers service held at Central Lutheran Church here in Minneapolis.  With the exception of a couple years, I have been attending this service for at least ten years now, and it has become one of the mainstay events of my Holiday season.

The Vespers features over 300 participants including choirs, 
instrumentalists, readers, and a full liturgical party.

Over the years my celebration of this concert has evolved before settling into its current form.  For the past six or seven years now I have organized a group of friends to attend the Saturday, 5:00 pm performance, and then we come back to my place for a Holiday soup dinner.  The soups are pretty much the same each year.  The first is a turkey, vegetable, noodle soup, made by cooking down the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving, and the second is a delicious apple, curry, squash soup, which brings out the wonderful flavors of this time of year.  Next year, I’m planning to serve a third option, but that will be a surprise for those who attend.

Roughly 10,000 worshipers attend the Vespers annually.

Along with the soup, a tossed salad, and some good hearty breads are served, and the meal is then topped off with an amazing dessert.  The menu is purposefully simple.  I needed to serve something that could be cooking while we were at the concert (no one wants to start cooking a meal at 8:00 pm while the guests are already present) - and that I wouldn’t have to worry would burning down my apartment.  The soups are made in advance and left warming in crockpots while we are at the concert.  After the concert the only thing left to do is to put together the tossed salad and cut up the bread.  Its an easy and delicious meal with relatively little fuss.

All four choirs combine for the final pieces.

A candlelight singing of "Silent Night" brings the Vespers to a close.

The vespers – actually more of a lessons and carols than vespers - is always spectacular, and has become an important Holiday event for my friends.  For some, like my friend Danelle, it is the central way that we share the Holidays.  The first half of the performance is centered around Advent, while the second half centers around Christmas, and the performance ends with a beautiful candle lit communal singing of Silent Night – truly my favorite part of the evening.  That reflective ending is the perfect transition to the delightful dinner that awaits my guests.

The table waiting for the post-concert guests to arrive.

Once the guests arrived, Beatrix made a new friend.

The annual Augsburg Choir’s Advent Vespers service has become a central part of my Holidays, and is the first of the Holiday celebrations I host.  It fills me with music and joy and gives me a moment of quiet respite from this busy time of year.  As we finish out these hectic December days, I hope you will find an opportunity to spend some quiet time to reflect on the wonder of this season.

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