Augustana School of Music Invites Public to 86th Annual Christmas Vespers Concert

By Jill Wilson | November 15, 2023
And a little child shall lead them

In collaboration with Campus Ministry, the Augustana School of Music (SoM) invites the public to join the university community for its 2023 Christmas Vespers Concert, “And a little child shall lead them.” The theme of this year’s Vespers comes from the words of the prophet Isaiah, “... and a little child shall lead us,” reminding us of the surprising and wonderful promise of this season — that salvation/God comes through something as unexpected as a small and simple child.

In-person performances will take place at 7:30 p.m., on Friday, Dec. 1, and Saturday, Dec. 2, at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls. This year’s Vespers will also include an abbreviated service on Saturday, Dec. 2, at 3 p.m., intended for those who are young in age or young at heart, and will include storyteller Tom Roberts as a special guest.

“We know that December is a busy time of year and it can be a challenge for individuals and familiesto be able to come to Vespers,” said Dr. Peter Folliard, dean of the School of Music. “The afternoon matinee creates an opportunity to share Vespers with even our youngest audience.”

This year’s Christmas Vespers will feature Augustana’s choirs, percussion ensemble and marks the return of the Augustana Brass Choir, led by Instructor of Music Matthew Erickson.

“The Augustana Brass Choir’s performance at Vespers is a long-standing tradition and part of Augustana’s heritage. It has been long desired, and we are excited to be in a place where we can bring it back and be proud of it,” added Folliard.

“Vespers is a wonderful way to kick off the Christmas season,” said Dr. Russell Svenningsen, director of vocal studies. “I am excited for the collaboration of the Augustana Choir, Angelus, Chamber Choir, Brass Choir, Percussion Ensemble and String Quartet. Audiences will enjoy music in four languages spanning five centuries.”

Augustana has once again partnered with Thrivent for an initiative that supports the School of Music and its programming. Each year, from November through December, for every $1 donated to the School of Music, Thrivent will match $1 up to a total of $15,000.

In addition, Augustana's Christmas Vespers will be available for viewing via a 1-time livestream on Augustana's YouTube Channel on Dec. 2, at 7:30 p.m.

For more information on how to purchase tickets and/or support the initiative, visit

About Christmas Vespers

One of Augustana’s oldest and most beloved traditions made its debut on Dec. 18, 1938, when the Augustana Choir presented a service of Yuletide music to a full house in the gymnasium/chapel. This Vespers service ushered in the Advent and Christmas celebration on campus, a tradition that continues to the present.

The first Vespers service was presented in three parts: The Prophecy of the Coming of the Christ Child, the Birth of the Savior and Praise of the Newborn Child. The Augustana Choir sang a majority of the program, but also included a women’s trio, male quartet, male duet and female solo.

Christmas Vespers continued in this basic format for the next few years, evolving quickly into one of the college’s most popular and well-attended programs.

In recent years, Vespers has become a multi-performance event to thousands in Sioux Falls and the region — also performing in Rapid City and the Twin Cities.

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