Christmas at Olivet Means Musical Memories

Olivet Christmas traditions continue to fill the atmosphere on campus and in the community with hope and joy.

November 19, 2021 Arts & Music

Christmastime is special at Olivet. Through the hustle and bustle of the academic semester, students, faculty and staff find ways to celebrate Christmas. Olivet’s School of Music annually hosts performances of Handel’s Messiah and Sounds of the Season holiday concert within the first weeks of December.

Handel’s Messiah

Messiah, an oratorio composed by George Frideric Handel, is a concert-based musical event. Messiah has been performed at Olivet for 87 years.

There are no costumes or sets, just beautiful music that tells powerful stories. This musical rendition of the Gospel is encompassed by three parts and illustrates Jesus’ birth, the crucifixion and resurrection, and finally, the second coming of Jesus.

Messiah is a poetic rendering of biblical texts related to the life of Jesus,” explains Dr. Neal Woodruff ‘91, director of university orchestra. “Even though the music (with the exception the “Hallelujah Chorus”) may be largely unfamiliar to rising generations, and the lyrics are set using “King James” English, we continue to perform Messiah because it speaks to the heart of who we are – believers in a good God who has redeemed us, and who is in the process of using us for the work of redeeming His creation.”

Messiah is being performed in Centennial Chapel on Dec. 4 at 7:00 p.m. Soloists include Ashtyn Williams, Elena Colbert, Emma Morris, Mikayla Tackaberry, Jacob Tolbert and Jude Morris.

Sounds of the Season

With a combination of classic carols and contemporary variations of Christmas music, this event is filled with holiday joy and spirit. Beginning more than 20 years ago with a purpose to combine the talents of all students within the School of Music, the Sounds of the Season holiday concert has been a community favorite.

There are more than 500 student musicians who participate in ensembles including Concert Singers, Gospel Choir, Orpheus Choir, Show Choir, University Orchestra, Jazz Band, Flute Choir, Wind Ensemble, Steel Drum Band, Piano Ensemble.

For ticket information regarding these events, go to

Photos courtesy of University Archives

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

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