Adventsingen 2016

The BYU German and Russian Department invited all to join them in enjoying a special Christmas musical performance.

PROVOthumbnail, Utah (Dec. 4, 2016)—For 42 years, BYU has celebrated Adventsingen, a tradition from Salzburg, Austria, to commemorate missing or fallen friends. What began as a small event now attracts over 36,000 visitors to Salzburg each year, many of whom have attended several times.

The festival contains Christmas-related and Bible readings, musical arrangements of choirs singing familiar Christmas songs and instrumental performances. In the true spirit of Christmas, this tradition is performed all over the German-speaking countries to promote peace and harmony during the holidays.

Former BYU professors Gerald and Norma Davis brought the tradition to BYU in 1974 as a way for the German-speaking BYU community to celebrate Christmastime. The performance has grown significantly, including a choir of children and performances of alphorn and folk music. The  event draws huge crowds of attendants, whether they speak German or not.

This year’s fireside included music and readings from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, based on the common heritage of the people who live in the Alps. The alphorn trio was especially resonate as the instrument is three meters long and takes a lot of lung capacity to play.  

Familiar tunes included O Tannenbaum (“O Christmas Tree”  and Stille Nacht (“Silent Night”). The audience was encouraged to participate at several points, singing along with the choir for both of these songs and parts of others.

Participating in the studentenchor (student choir) is a great way to be involved in some Christmas-time service for German-speaking students. “Most of the student choir served a German-speaking mission,” commented Shelley Bushman, a BYU student who participated in the studentenchor. “Almost all of us also provided our own costume.”

Shelley refers to lederhosen and dirndl, the male and female traditional dress of Austria based loosely on what peasants would wear in the Alps. The traditional costume of the performers also created a more authentic feel to the fireside, as traditional dress is also worn in the Adventsingen in Austria.

Adventsingen is one among many Christmas traditions from different countries performed at BYU, helping all to feel connected by this very special holiday.

Hannah Sandorf (B.A. Art History and Curatorial Studies ’17)

Hannah covers events for the German and Russian Department for the College of Humanities. She is a junior pursuing a degree in art history with a minor in art.

Image: Student participants Mark Standring and Shelley Bushman