SJS Candlelight in the Time of Covid
Every year, before the end of the fall semester, the Candlelight service takes place at St. John the Divine, and the St. John School’s musical ensembles perform. However, with the pandemic, it was unable to happen in person this year. Instead, the ensembles pre-recorded their performances, and compiled a video that was sent to the community on Sunday, December 13.
To get a sense for how the virtual service went this year, and how students in ensembles felt about it, I watched the service and spoke to members of choir.
“I appreciate all the work the Fine Arts Department has put into making sure the modified Candlelight will go well this year, even though socially distanced rehearsals have been a bit challenging,” senior Abigail Poag said.
Because it is Poag’s last year at SJS, she was upset to hear that her final Candlelight performance would not be in person.
Poag misses the “peaceful and truly beautiful” atmosphere of Candlelight, where “students from all three divisions [are] packed into the sanctuary with their families, surrounded by candles and Christmas decorations and music.”
On the other hand, she is grateful that the choir was still able to learn holiday music for the event.
There are a few traditions that take place at Candlelight, like the Head Prefect of Student Affairs Council (SAC) delivering a speech, the choir singing ‘Wonderful Peace’ with the lights dimmed in the church, and walking over to the main part of campus for endless cookies at the Wassail Party.
Senior Nicole Doyle was disappointed that this was her last Candlelight, but she was glad to be a part of the recordings and the unique virtual experience.
Likewise, Chorale president Jenny Green was “fortunate to have Candlelight in any capacity.”
“The biggest difference was that singing in masks socially distanced has made it harder to listen to others in the choir to blend and produce a more or less unified sound,” she said. “We just have adapted to be more mindful while singing.”
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