Rounding out a year with the St. John’s Bible will be Wartburg College’s annual Christmas with Wartburg concert with the St. John’s Bible as the inspiration for this year’s theme.
The idea came after a group of faculty and staff from Wartburg visited St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn. as part of a training program before the St. John’s Bible arrived on campus.
“I came back from that workshop and I thought ‘wouldn’t this be cool for a Christmas with Wartburg,’” Gail Sexton, church relations coordinator, said.
“I saw Dr. [Lee] Nelson and he was immediately excited about it because he just knows what a work of art it is and an amazing way to read the word of God,” Sexton said.
Nelson, director of Wartburg Choir, said as he watched people look at the Bible it became obvious to him that the St. John’s Bible would be the perfect centerpiece for this year’s Christmas with Wartburg.
It is unusual to focus on an object for inspiration, Nelson said.
“Having a written Bible be the centerpiece is a really unique way of looking at the Christmas story,” Nelson said.
The St. John’s Bible took ancient text and translated it through a newer lens, Nelson said.
“Musically we are doing that through using chant and using pieces inspired by ancient musical traditions seen in a new, modern light,” Nelson said.
Ali Brown, a member of The Wartburg Choir, said the music in this year’s show is very uplifting.
“It’s all about celebrating the Lord and everything he did for us,” Brown said.
Other colleges have utilized the St. John’s Bible in various programs and when Wartburg had people from St. John’s University come to campus in January, Nelson talked to different people about the possibility of using the St. John’s Bible as the inspiration for
Christmas with Wartburg, Sexton said.
“Dr. Nelson talked with Tim Ternes, the director of the St. John’s Bible, back in January and he was very supportive in the idea,” Sexton said.
“I think ever since we saw the St. John’s Bible we thought it would be really neat. The idea has been just getting bigger and bigger as the year has progressed.”
According to the Wartburg website, in 1998 Saint John’s Abbey and University commissioned renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson to produce a hand-written, hand-illuminated Bible.
“It is a year long program where you get all seven volumes at the beginning of the year for the gallery exhibit and then two volumes for the remainder of the year,” Sexton said.
Sexton said there are plans to have the St. John’s Bible on display before and after each performance.
Images from St. John’s Bible will be projected during each performance from Dec. 5 to 7, Nelson said.