Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Duke Chapel Celebrates Christmas

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Update: Watch the livestreams of all of the Christmas Eve services on our YouTube channel—click here.

Update: Click here to watch an online version of this year's presentation of Handel's Messiah; available through December 25.

Duke Chapel will celebrate Christmas with worship services on Christmas Eve at 2:00, 5:00, 8:00, and 11:00 p.m.

All are welcome to attend these free, public services; Christmas Eve services often fill up, so attendees are encouraged to arrive early. Free parking is available in the Bryan Center Parking Garage located at 125 Science Drive.

All of the services will be streamed live on the Duke Chapel YouTube channel; the 11:00 p.m. service will also be broadcast statewide by Spectrum News 1 on its channel 1 and be available on the Spectrum News App.

“Christmas is a time when we look to the past for a way forward into the future,” said the Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery, dean of the Chapel. “We look back to the birth of Jesus so that we can move forward knowing that God is with us.”

“We look all the way back to the beginnings of the world when ‘the Word was with God and the Word was God,’” Dean Powery said, “so that we can face tomorrow believing that ‘the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it.’”

The Christmas Eve services on Sunday, December 24, are:

  • 2:00 p.m., Children’s service with Christmas carols, a pageant, and scripture readings that tell the story of the birth of Jesus; the service lasts about thirty-five minutes.
  • 5:00 p.m., The Durham Children’s Choir sings and Powery preaches the sermon; the Amalgam Brass ensemble and Chapel organists lead the congregation in singing Christmas carols.
  • 8:00 p.m., A service with Holy Communion and Powery preaching; the Bell Durham handbell choir plays; the Amalgam Brass ensemble and Chapel organists lead the congregation in singing Christmas carols.
  • 11:00 p.m., The traditional Service of Nine Lessons and Carols by candlelight with scripture readings and Christmas carols; the singers of the Duke Chapel Schola Cantorum, a harpist, and Chapel organists lead the music, which will include the debut of an original, award-winning carol by Dr. Zebulon Highben, the Chapel’s music director.

An ASL signer will be present at all of these Christmas Eve services.

In addition to being televised by Spectrum News 1, the Christmas Eve Lessons and Carols service at 11:00 p.m. will also be broadcast on the radio on WDNC-AM 620. All four services will be broadcast live on the Duke Hospital TV channel 12.

In addition to the Christmas Eve services, the Chapel will also hold its regular Sunday morning service on December 24 at 11:00 a.m., which will mark the Fourth Sunday of Advent. Music in this service will include the Duke Chapel Schola Cantorum and Mallarmé Music performing the Bach cantata Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, “Savior of the Nations, Come” (BWV 61).

For the ninetieth year, the Duke Chapel Choir performs G.F. Handel’s Messiah with soloists and orchestra. The concerts are on December 1 at 7:30 p.m., December 2 at 3:00 p.m., and December 3 at 4:00 p.m. The concerts are sold out, but a recorded version of this year’s Messiah performances will be available on the Chapel’s YouTube channel from December 18 through Christmas Day.

The annual Duke Chapel by Candlelight Christmas Open House will be Wednesday, December 13, from 12-noon to 2:00 p.m. The Chapel will be decorated for the season with candles, wreathes, and greenery. See the beauty of the Chapel and listen to live performances of familiar Christmas music.

Other events at the chapel during the Advent and Christmas seasons include (free and open to the public unless otherwise indicated):

The Chapel is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day when it is closed, as well as these days when it closes at 5:00 p.m.: December 22, 23, and 26–31. The Chapel also closes to the public for weddings and other private ceremonies, so before planning a visit, please check the website calendar.