The final BYU-Hawaii of the Fall 2017 Semester featured Christmas music performed by the Concert Choir, University Chorale, Shaka Steel, and Street Band. BYUH students expressed recognizing a difference in the spirit of the Dec. 5 Christmas devotional compared to regular weekly devotionals.
Rikki Brady, a senior from Oregon majoring in vocal performance, had the opportunity of participating in three of the choir groups. She said, “It was a lot of work to put it together. It's definitely worth it, especially when you feel the spirit. There were a lot of different sounds that we heard from this ensemble. It brought a lot of different culture.
“We're not doing it solely to perform. We’re doing it to share our testimonies through music. I'm really grateful we have really great music professors and directors.”
In addition to the ensembles’ performance, music students Hikaru Imaziuma and Lily Asanuma performed a piano duet of “Excerpts from The Nutcracker.” A special eight-person choir debuted a brand new hymn with text by President John S. Tanner and music by Music Department Chair Dan Bradshaw titled “Carol for Anna and Simeon.” It was performed by Concert Choir singers Emmalee Buss, Kristi Krause, Rikki Brady, Sarah Knight, Josh Jung, Jeff Moller, Makana Arce, and Taylor Yim.
Puaena Kap, a freshman from the big island studying biology, offered the closing prayer for the event. She said the devotional made her “realize what Christmas really is about.”
“The music,” Kap said, “gives you get a different view of how precious a gift Christ was. If it wasn’t for his birth or for him coming here, we wouldn’t be anything honestly. We would be nothing.”
Dr. Daniel Henderson, assistant professor of music, acted as narrator for the event. Between each musical performance, he gave an excerpt of history or scripture relating to Christmas.
For Kenneth Haynie, a freshman from Texas majoring in exercise and sports science, the devotional held an entire different meaning. Haynie said, “One of the things that I learned was that sometimes we make things up.
“[Henderson] talked a lot about how we say there are three wise men, and we make assumptions about the birth of the Savior when really we don’t know who was there. What we do know is that he was born. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. That was the biggest take away to me.”
Haynie related the message to his own life. He said, “A lot of times, in almost every aspect of our lives, we make assumptions because we don’t really know. I think it’s a sign of maturity and intelligence to admit that you don’t know and that it’s okay. One day we will know.”
Although there are messages in every devotional, Haynie identified a difference in this particular Christmas devotional. He said, “The difference was I felt more of a love for those who were around me. It brought everyone closer together somehow.
“With everyone participating, and everyone knew someone who was participating, it kind of changed it to one big family rather than all of us in an auditorium listening to one person speaking. Music connects us because we end up with a common interest or love. Specifically, with the music from the devotional, you just know that everyone is enjoying it at the same time.”
With a smile on his face, Haynie said, “Music is the spirit of Christmas.”
Olivia Welch, a freshman from Germany majoring in secondary education, found a feeling of unity through the music. She said, “The music made it more special, inviting the spirit and making us lose ourselves in the talk given. My favorite part ... was when they pointed out Joseph’s struggles and how we relate to his feelings of doubt even at such a wonderful and blessed time.”
Welch related her point to students at BYUH. She explained, “We’re so blessed to live at this time with the scriptures and prophets and to be here with so many righteous brothers and sisters. Yet we are still struggling.”
Welch said she felt better about her perspective towards her trials because of Joseph’s example. “It's easy to get discouraged like Joseph did, even with a miracle in their midst. All we can do is our best.”
The devotional can be viewed at BYU-Hawaii’s official Facebook or YouTube pages, or by clicking this link: https://www.facebook.com/byuhawaii/videos/10155341730763049/?hc_location=ufi