By Jade Mardirosian
Baylor’s annual Christmas on Fifth Street will include a new event this year, New Anthems for an Old Story.
Dr. Burt Burleson, university chaplain and dean of spiritual life, spearheaded the new project, which is a musical advent service that will take place Thursday.
The service will include originally composed hymns and anthems written by Burleson and Carlos Colón, artist-in-residence at Armstrong Browning Library and a resident fellow at Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion.
Burleson described the songs as being composed specifically for the Baylor community for this Advent season and noted a number of reasons that motivated the writing of these pieces.
“We really believe that a Christian institution needs to have its life together punctuated by worship and have the community come together in worship events specifically during special seasons,” Burleson said. “The season of advent is really about waiting and anticipating the coming of Christ. The songs we have written are really to help us get in touch with our longing and waiting for God.”
Colón describes Burleson’s lyrics as soul stirring and explains the two worked closely on composing the songs.
“When I write something like this, the text is the most important thing because it is the message,” Colón said. “He is very rigorous with his lyric writing and he would go back and make many changes with his lyrics and I would make changes to the music until we had something that felt right, that we could sit down and sing together.”
Colón describes the music as being melodically very accessible to the Baptist tradition while remaining connected to older traditions.
“I would say it is music that will connect with a community like Baylor, it is music that is sing able,” Colón said.
B.A.S.I.C.— a chamber choir, a string orchestra and different ministers in the community—will help lead the service.
B.A.S.I.C. is based at Central United Methodist Church in Waco, and includes members from several churches in the community.
The choir will perform some pieces alone and will also act to lead the audience in other hymns and songs during the service.
“It may feel like a musical, but instead of the audience being spectators, they will be participants,” Colón said. “In other words, this is not something you come to just sit and listen to. Instead you partake and participate; it’s a musical for the congregation.”
Burleson and Colón both hope this service will become an annual event at Christmas on Fifth Street and part of a greater tradition at Baylor.
“We feel that this piece will be a complement to the joy at Christmas on Fifth Street,” Colón said. “We hope that it will provide people with an opportunity to start with a moment of reflection or to end their joyful experience at Christmas onFifth Street. I love to sing and make music with students and I hope that as many students as are able come and connect with the music.”
New Anthems for an Old Story will be held at 6 and 8 p.m. Thursday in the Armstrong Browning Library.