Christmas in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: Religious Services
Bethlehem’s Moravian churches hold a special kind of religious service, called a lovefeast, around Christmas time. In addition, Moravians, like many other Christians, also hold special services on Christmas Eve. The Moravian Christmas Eve vigil resounds with instrumental music and hymns. The hymn, "Jesus, Call Thou Me,” led by Count Zinzendorf in 1741, is always sung, as is another favorite Moravian Christmas hymn called "Morning Star.” Each year a specially selected child soloist wins the honor of leading this hymn. As the last verse of this hymn begins, praising the Lord whose splendor shines in the darkness, the servers enter the darkened church carrying trays of lit beeswax candles, trimmed at the bottom with red paper and ribbon (see also Christingle). They are distributed to the congregation, and, holding glowing candles, worshipers continue to sing songs about God’s light shining in the darkness.