Converse University and the Spartanburg community enjoyed a beautiful Converse holiday tradition with the annual Festival of Lessons & Carols. Held in Twichell Auditorium on November 30, 2023, this public event welcomed guests from throughout the Upstate to campus for this yearly custom.
Twichell Auditorium had a full house with nearly 850 guests. Approximately 200 people viewed the Lessons & Carols live stream.
The Twichell stage was adorned with festive poinsettias, two massive trees, and wreaths. Dr. Brennan Szafron, organist and soloist Madeline Owens ’24 welcomed guests with their performance of the Processional Carol: Once in Royal David’s City.
Reverend Eliza Smith DeBevoise, University Chaplain and Director of Community Engagement, offered the Bidding Prayer, where she spoke of the importance of persistence and the stubborn resilience of hope, particularly during trying times.
“Advent is always a season of waiting, but that does not make it stagnant,” Reverend Smith DeBevoise said. “We wait together actively as we journey toward Christmas. As we make our way, we think about what hope, peace, joy and love might mean for our world as we grapple with our own collective responsibility to better it.”
View Photo Highlights from the Event:
Throughout the evening, the Converse Chorale, Converse Wind Ensemble and the Spartanburg Master Chorale performed and led attendees in singing traditional carols and hymns.
Converse alumna Carrie Hill Coleman ‘96 has attended Lessons and Carols since she was a student. This year, she attended with her daughter, who is considering enrolling as a Freshman at Converse next Fall.
“Getting to experience Lessons and Carols again, this time not only as an alum but also as a prospective parent, made me fall in love with it all over again.”Carrie Coleman ’96
“Getting to experience Lessons and Carols again, this time not only as an alum but also as a prospective parent, made me fall in love with it all over again,” Coleman said. “Kudos to Chaplain Eliza Smith DeBevoise and the Department of Spiritual Life for doing such a beautiful job keeping this special tradition alive.”
Converse students read the nine verses of the Christmas story in between the carols. Speakers included Ryan Glenn ’25, Marisol Gutierrez ’25, Allison Mason ’24, Logan Nichols ’24, Aidan O’Donnell ’24, Anna Patterson ’24 (Nisbet Honors), Keith Rogers ’27 (Nisbet Honors), D’Asia Thomas ’26, and Kiarra Thomas ’27.
Just prior to Lessons and Carols, Converse philanthropic supporters gathered for a “Holiday Cheer” reception in the historic lobby of Wilson Hall. These leadership sponsors joined to celebrate the start of the holiday season, and express their commitment and passion for Converse’s people and programs.
Luminaries adorned the front of the Converse University campus, setting the holiday mood as guests arrived on the crisp, clear night.
These luminaries can be purchased each year in memory or in honor of loved ones and friends; proceeds from the luminaries benefit the Converse Student Benevolence Fund, which supports students by providing emergency assistance for basic needs, including food and housing.
The Festival of Lessons and Carols was first held on Christmas Eve 1918 at King’s College, a constituent college of Cambridge University, England.
For additional information about this event, contact University Chaplain Reverend Eliza Smith DeBevoise.