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Latin students raise their voices for the holidays

By James Palmer
Published: December 2010

Only one word could describe the Latin trip to the 63rd annual Brown University Latin Carol celebration: divine. 
On December 6, 28 Latin scholars (both current and past students) set out from South at 6:30 PM for the First Baptist Church in Providence, Rhode Island, en route to a night of jubilant celebration of the holiday season and of the simple joy of the Classics.
Accompanied by our faithful magistra Alice Lanckton, as well as the World Language Department Head Susan DeRobert, the History Department Head Robert Parlin, and history teacher Pilar Quezzaire, we climbed on the bus just as a few flurries began to fall (a sign that the Roman augurs would consider auspicious).
After about an hour bus ride, filled with a joyful rendition of Gaudeamus Igitur (a song that any serious Latin student will have memorized by the end of his or her first term in the class), we arrived at the church.
When we walked inside the front doors I was stunned to see the sanctuary filled with so many gorgeous people. Of course I shouldn’t have been so surprised because as we all know, students who take Latin are not only the most studious and cleverest but also are the best looking.
On that note, when we walked in we were all disappointed not to see Emma Watson in the crowd. With all the subjects Hermione takes you’d think she would at least be in Latin II.
Our large group moved forward through the crowd, found seats along the left side of the chapel, and awaited the beginning of the non-denominational service.
At eight o’clock the sing-along started with a Salutatio (welcome), given by Jeri Debrohun, the Associate Professor of Classics at Brown University.
Starting with the first carol of the night, “Adeste Fideles (“O come all ye Faithful), the entire crowd burst into song at the familiar tune, even if the words were a bit tricky.
The night continued with other traditional carols sung by the entire audience in Latin including “O Urbs pusilla Bethlehem (“O Little Town of Bethlehem), “Ecce Chorus Angelorum (“Hark the Herald Angels Sing), and “Ornate Ramosis Aulas (“Angels We Have Heard on High).
As much fun as it was singing in Latin, I will not deny that I did butcher my share of lyrics.
Interspersed between the songs were readings in Latin and Greek both from the bible and Greco-Roman mythology.
Additionally, there were performances by different choral groups of other familiar carols like “Duo Dies Natales (“The Twelve days of Christmas).
The service continued for a little more than an hour. After the final tune, we applauded and headed outside.
While waiting for our beloved instructor, we gave the crowd milling outside the church a heart-filled rendition of “Gaudeamus Igitur (“Therefore let us rejoice) and headed back to the bus where Mrs. Lanckton handed out a batch of chocolate chip cookies for the ride home.
The entire night could really be summed up by Latin IV Honors senior graduate Zoe Newberg: “It was awesome! 
From the bus ride to the carols to the man who held up the plaudite (applause) sign, the night was fun, edifying, and downright hilarious. 
For me, as someone who took Latin for three years at South but did not have a chance to continue this year, the trip was exactly what I needed.
I think I can safely speak for all of us Latin graduates that this trip really did help to ease the pain of not being in the class anymore.
Going through the day without the same class that I have been with since we were freshmen in Latin II Honors has not been easy, and there has been a definite void in my life left by the lack of Ovid.
The trip to the sing-along in Providence did to some extent alleviate that pain. But, even though my hankering for some bread and jam, Catullus poems, and marching may have been eased a little, I really think I could use another tutorial from our beloved Latin teacher on how to use Google Images.

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