Light and dark cannot exist without each other. They serve as complements, two forces always separate, but never quite coexisting in the same moment. Yet this weekend, light and dark are twisting together as two of the oldest Chautauquan traditions join to create one, connected evening for both the Sacred Song Service and the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle’s Vigil Ceremony honoring the Class of 2022.
The Sacred Song Service is at 8 p.m. Sunday, July 31, in the Amphitheater as usual, but afterward the CLSC graduates will proceed to the Hall of Philosophy, where everyone is welcome to come to the Vigil Ceremony. The service’s theme coincides with the CLSC Class of 2022’s motto: “Phoenix Rising.”
“Planning the service starts with some of us from (the Department of) Religion and some of us from the CLSC meeting together and just discussing how this can all combine in a way that makes sense with our traditions of Sacred Song,” said Josh Stafford, director of sacred music and Jared Jacobsen Chair for the Organist.
The themes of light and dark will coexist in both Sacred Song and the vigil. With the Hall of Philosophy open this year, its cauldrons around the perimeter will be lit once more. Those themes carry through Sacred Song, as well, through the opening song “Day is Dying in the West,” and the closing “Now the Day is Over.” Stafford said taking essentials from both the Department of Religion and the CLSC has been “figuring out nicely.”
Week Six — this year appropriately focusing on “After Dark: The World of Nighttime” — is known for its annual recognition of the CLSC graduating class. It starts with the baccalaureate ceremony Sunday morning at the Service of Worship and Sermon, followed by the vigil Sunday evening, and various events throughout the week to commemorate the graduates.
Sony Ton-Aime, Michael I. Rudell Director of Literary arts, said he is elated to combine new and old traditions with the Department of Religion.
“While we are going to have the vigil in the Hall of Philosophy, we want to add the tradition and have an aspect of the Amp with Sacred Song Service,” Ton-Aime said. “I’m very excited to add to this beautiful tradition that will bring visibility to yet another beautiful tradition.”
Hoping the audience will receive and inspire the spirit of collaboration, Stafford said this event is truly Chautauqua — working together and supporting one another.
“Phoenix Rising” signifies the resilience, and responsibility, of emerging from the pandemic, Ton-Aime said, as the class also plans to honor those who have passed from COVID-19.
“When future CLSC classes will look back at us, they will see that we’re working diligently to make sure that we come out of this stronger, better than we were before,” Ton-Aime said.
During Sacred Song, there will be a modern hymn by Julian Rush that Stafford said speaks well to the theme of the service and the CLSC graduating class.
There are four different prayers included in Sacred Song that represent the four pillars of Chautauqua, which Stafford said makes for “a nice celebration of what Chautauqua is, within the context of Sacred Song.”
The theme of renewal is something Stafford also wants to highlight, as the end of pandemic seems near.
“There’s a lot of renewal happening,” Stafford said. “I think there’s some renewal in that spirit of collaboration, as well.”