Skip to main content

Traditional 'Joy of Christmas' moves online Dec. 9

A 50-year holiday tradition bringing together Augustana students and Augustana Lutheran Church in Andover, Ill., will continue online this year.

"Joy of Christmas Past" will premiere on YouTube at 7:30 p.m. Dec 9.

The two Augustana communities will present a celebration featuring Christmas hymns, the reading of the Christmas story in English, Spanish and Swedish, and a Christmas sermon delivered in 1975 by Conrad Bergendoff, Augustana's president from 1935-1962.

The Rev. Reed Pedersen, pastor of Augustana Lutheran, produced the broadcast, which will include  hymns performed by Augustana College organist Christopher Nelson, complete with lyrics provided for singing along at home.

Students will read the Gospel of Luke in English and Spanish, with a recording of the Swedish translation read by Bergendoff.

"We have a recording of Dr. Bergendoff's 1975 Christmas sermon here in Andover, and we thought this would be an opportunity for people to once again hear this beloved leader's voice," Rev. Pedersen said.

Traditionally, the service takes place in the church and the nearby Jenny Lind Chapel.

Dr. Bergendoff helped lead efforts to restore and preserve the Jenny Lind Chapel, a structure built in 1853 and largely funded by a gift from the Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind, which she made during her U.S. concert tour (1850-1852) organized by P.T. Barnum.

Dr. Bergendoff was an internationally acclaimed theologian and church historian, who served as dean and later president of Augustana College and Theological Seminary, retiring as president of the college in 1962. He remained active in the life of the college until his death in 1997 at the age of 102.

The connection between the college and the church dates to the mid-1800s, when Swedish Lutheran immigrants established the congregation under the Rev. Lars Paul Esbjorn. He became the first president of Augustana College.

If you have news, send it to! We love hearing about the achievements of our alumni, students and faculty.