A Christmas Message from 1513 A.D.

Kirkpatrick Chapel, Rutgers University
Photo © Jon Oliver.

Longtime readers of my blog may remember this entry. I’m rerunning it today in honor of the solstice and the season.

For many years I attended the annual Christmas concert at Kirkpatrick Chapel, Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. First because I had friends in the choirs that performed there, later because I loved the music and it had become an annual tradition for me and my friends. When I moved to southern New Jersey I couldn’t get to it any more, and I miss it.

I’m not a very religious person, belonging to no church or other organized religion, but I did grow up in a church-going family, and what I always liked most about it was the music. Particularly choir music. For over twenty years the annual concert at Rutgers gave me a joyful chance to hear some great choral singing. Between the songs, there would be readings from the Christmas story in the Bible, and also another reading. I don’t know where the tradition began, or how long ago it started, but most of the years I attended, there was a reading from a letter written by Fra Giovanni Giocondo. A google search will tell you more about the historical figure, though there seems to be some uncertainty that he did indeed write the letter. Whoever the author was, I find it very moving, especially at Christmas.

Fra Giovanni letter

Many years ago I lettered up this document and gave it out to friends as a Christmas present. I thought I’d do the same for all of you this year, in the spirit of the season. There’s a higher resolution copy HERE which you can download and print if you’d like.

Thanks to Linda for reminding me about this, share it with anyone you think might be interested. And if you ever get the chance to attend “Christmas in Carol and Song” at Kirkpatrick Chapel, don’t pass it up. It’s a wonderful experience.

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