Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1997-1998 index

Distributed December 3, 1997
Contact: Linda Mahdesian

President-elect Gee will join the fun

Adeste Fideles to the Fiftieth Annual Latin Carol Celebration

The Department of Classics will present the 50th annual Latin Carol Celebration at 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 8, in the First Baptist Meeting House. The program will feature readings in Latin by Brown faculty and staff, including President-elect E. Gordon Gee.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Lovers of classical Latin will enjoy Brown University's 50th annual Latin Carol Celebration at 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 8, in the First Baptist Meeting House, 75 North Main St. in Providence. William Wyatt, professor of classics at Brown, will serve as master of ceremonies. The program will feature readings in Latin by Brown faculty; "The Twelve Days of Christmas" sung in Latin by the Chattertocks; selections by the brass ensemble, Grex Tubarum; audience singing of Christmas carols in Latin; and a scripture reading in Latin by Brown President-elect E. Gordon Gee. Admission is free and the public is welcome.

Brief history of the Latin Carol Celebration

Variously named, the Latin Carol Celebration has been held in several locations, but the format has remained remarkably the same. The audience sings carols in Latin, while members of the Brown University family read passages from ancient texts, some from the Bible, in the original languages or in Latin translation. Originally labeled a "Service," more recently the term "Celebration" has been adopted, both because celebratio is more easily understood by the Latin-less and because the event was never intended primarily as a worship service.

The first Carol Service (Dec. 14, 1948, in Alumnae Hall on the Pembroke campus), set the tone for all succeeding celebrations. Music was provided by organist John Rowe Workman of the Classics Department and a chorus, directed by William Dinneen of the Department of Music. Herbert Newell Couch, chair of the Classics Department, was master of ceremonies, a term changed the next year to Magister Equitum. There were four readings that continue to this day: Isaiah 40:1-5; 9:6-7; Vergil (fourth Eclogue); Luke 2:1-14; and John 1:1-14.

Attendance in Alumnae Hall was always good, rising from an initial 300 to 400 to a reported 1,000 in 1967. In addition to Brown students and faculty, the event now attracts a large number of secondary school students, including some 100 annually from the Wahconah School in Dalton, Mass.