The BYU–Hawaii choral and music students performed Christmas music during the Dec. 4 devotional to celebrate the birth of the Savior. As John S. Tanner, president of BYUH, opened the devotional, he remarked, “I’ve always loved this time of year. Sister Tanner and I both just love the Christmas music and the spirit it brings, so we welcome you humbly to our wonderful Christmas devotional.”
He continued, “I want to take this point and privilege and take a chance to share just a brief Christmas thought with you, which has inspired Susan and me. This Christmas, seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forego a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger.”
The audience and choirs sang “Joy to the World” as the opening hymn. Following the invocation, the attendees were greeted with “Gesu Bambino,” performed by Melissa Gain. Following the performance, scriptures telling the Christmas story were read aloud as other sections prepared to perform.
The BYUH Shaka Steel drum players performed “I Saw Three Ships” after the reading of the scriptures. Shauni Bradley, a freshman business major from Utah, said, “It was really unique to hear a classic Christmas song in a form I’m not used to hearing. Shaka steel drums have a very unique sound. I hope one day our church hymns sound like that.”
The scriptures Alma 7:10-11 were read, saying, “And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.
“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.”
After scripture were read, the poem “O Little Town of Bethlehem” was read to the audience. The University Chorale then performed the song with the same title, accompanied by jazz instruments. The large audience then joined the choirs in singing “The First Noel”.
Then Luke 2:8-14 was shared, and the BYUH Concert Choir sang “Angels We Have Heard On High” a capella. They were followed by BYUH Salsa Orchestra’s rendition of “O Holy Night”, and the Concert Choir returned to sing “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”
Anel Canto, a freshman student from Panama and computer science major, is a member of the Concert Choir. Canto said the music increased his Christmas spirit. “The lyrics from the music evoked sweet memories of Christmas traditions I participated in my childhood: singing Christmas carols around the neighborhood, or watching the live nativities. To me, music is a powerful way to feel the spirit of Christmas.”
Canto grew up Catholic in Panama, and celebrated Christmas for much of his life. He said that even though he celebrated Christmas in a different way than he does now, the same spirit was there.