Each December – and November, and October – Goshen College students prepare for the Christmas choral and orchestral concert, Festival of Carols (or, as they refer to it affectionately, FOC, an endearment whose irony is not lost on them). Festival of Carols features three Goshen College choirs—the men’s choir, the women’s world music choir and the chamber choir—as well as the Goshen College orchestra and Shout for Joy, a children’s choir. This year’s concert will be held this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

According to Deb Brubaker, professor of music and director of the women’s world music choir, the Festival of Carols is “a Christmas Eve service that combines congregational singing, choral singing and scripture.” The tradition began ten years ago and has continued ever since, to outstanding campus and public reception. According to Brubaker, the show is unique because it combines the excitement of expectancy with the wonder of the unexpected.

“You know how it’s going to progress, but within that there’s always a wonderful opportunity for newness and beauty,” she said.

As it has in the past, this year’s concerts will open with “Once in David’s Royal City,” a Christmas hymn, and will include other carol favorites, such as “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” For these carols and others, the choirs invite and encourage the audience to sing along. The concerts will also feature pieces by each of the College’s three choirs and by the children’s choir. The Women’s World Music Choir, for instance, will be performing an African piece, “Denko,” a song that was performed in 2007 and that became a remembered favorite. The other choirs and orchestra will be performing their own pieces, including other international, classical and Christmas works.

This year’s performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday in Sauder Concert Hall. For many people at the college and in the community, as well as others, Festival of Carols is an event that heralds the dawning of the advent season and the expectancy of the coming of Christ.

Said Brubaker, “Seeing the joy that it brings to other people, and seeing the excitement that people have about it, makes me grateful to be a part of it.”