Magnificat stories

It was, once upon a time, the last evening service of the fall term at Valparaiso University.  nearly 50 years ago, the last Vespers (evening service) was just before finals or the last day of classes prior to Christmas...exams came in January so Christmas was a time to read the books you hadn't read. 

The student body was only about 3500 and the chapel held it easy.  I played in the orchestra so I got the good seat.  For a religiously affiliated school, it was amazingly liberal and progressive.  We ran the student part of things by the "honor code"  which was "I hereby certify that I have neither given nor received any help in the preparation or completion of this assignment"....that isn't verbatim but pretty close.  It meant you did you own work and you didn't either give or accept help.  Professors left the room when you took tests and if they didn't some brave soul asked them to leave as it was an insult to the student's integrity to have one stay.  It was a good system.

It lead to nights like the Vespers I started with here.  For most of the budding or established romances it was the last night "date" before break and everyone scattered so  everyone filed in pretty much two by two.  The compensation for orchestra members was that your "date" or SO could sit with you, next too, kinda if you were playing and in a special set of seats if you were singing.  The big deal was that if you were performing, you got to change in the Chapel underneath the Altar where the good German Lutheran faculty would exchange holiday "cheer",  generally in the form of "grogg".   Our faculty excelled in "Busgrogg" which was hot cider and clear spirits and lots of cinnamon and pepper.  We were told, or forewarned that 1/2 a glass was the "pre-performance" limit and Dean Bugge would be mixing plenty for afterward so not to worry.  Anyway the mixing and mingling with the faculty, the excitement of a chapel full up with 4000+ and a 1000 standing on the sides, being  on the Altar area of, date completely "snowed" by the atmosphere and as many groggs  as she could consume, well it was special.

Then we got to play.  It was usually Bach's Magnificat and there you were, two and a half centuries later, having the honor to play such a piece of inspiration in a setting that was transcendental...well just almost never got any better.  Oh and that bit about the "honor code".  It was pretty easy to see why help from your fellow man was appreciated but if you wanted the real deal help, you got it from someplace else.

"Just a thought in keeping with the occasion".......


  1. wow what an experience that was! love the vid you posted too...amazing and beautiful! #NEB


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