Adventsingen brings Christmas cheer to the community

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The community gathers together to sing and listen to traditional German, Austrian and Swiss Christmas songs at Adventsingen. Adventsingen is a German program that focuses on the birth of Christ and celebrates the coming of the Christmas season. (Kaelin Hagen)

Members of the community gathered together Dec. 12 to celebrate the Christmas season by participating in the 46th annual Adventsingen put on by BYU’s German and Russian departments.

Adventsingen is a German program that focuses on the birth of Christ and celebrates the coming of the Christmas season. The program, held in the Harris Fine Arts Center’s de Jong Concert Hall, included both music and spoken scripture, with faculty and students participating alongside each other.

Professor Kathryn Isaak, the director of the program, said Adventsingen originated from Salzburg, Austria, and was brought back after a study abroad trip. Isaak said it started out with just a few students but has continued to grow each year and has now been a BYU tradition for more than 40 years.

Also participating in the program was German and Russian professor Rob McFarland. McFarland said he has been involved in the program for at least the past 30 years. He believes the culture of Christmas in Germany, Austria and Switzerland is a lot more reverent, and that culture is shown well in Adventsingen.

“(Adventsingen) really reflects that value that they have in thinking about the Savior and about singing hymns. There’s also some kind of merry Christmas stuff that’s lots of fun, but mostly it is really reflective about the Savior,” he said.

Katelyn Flake, a junior from Boise, Idaho, double majoring in biochemistry and German studies, said she would describe Adventsingen as a heartwarming community experience. She said having the community come together feels like how it would have felt celebrating Christmas 100 years ago.

Because of COVID-19, Adventsingen couldn’t happen last year. Isaak said not having Adventsingen in 2020 was really difficult for a lot of people, and she felt excited everyone could be back together to celebrate Christ in this manner.

“Everyone who is able to participate is just so grateful that we can be back doing this again, that we can be back together sharing in this beautiful welcoming of Christ into the world and of Christ into our hearts,” she said.

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