May 27, 2023

Faces lit up with joy as the halls echoed with the sonorous harmonies of “O Holy Night.” The small choir smiled with gratitude when the audience applauded at the end of the informal performance.

California Baptist University’s Women’s Choir and New Song traditionally go caroling during the Christmas season.

Women’s Choir’s caroling tradition was started last year by chaplain Ruthie Ceausu, a 2012 CBU School of Music graduate.

This year, a group from the Women’s Choir visited Magnolia Village Independent Living, an assisted living facility across the street from the CBU campus.

“We are able to bring a small piece of God’s joy into the lives of these residents,” said Lauren Solis, senior liberal studies major and Women’s Choir co-president. “The residents’ spirits are lifted when they have live entertainment.”

The eight women walked through the halls of the facility, serving songs and smiles to the senior residents Monday evening.

The choir often describes singing as an inward and outward ministry.

“If (the songs) affect us inwardly, we can show it outwardly when we sing,” said Lauren Shimabukuro, freshman engineering major and Women’s Choir member. “First, we are singing to God. The songs should have meaning to us.”

Shimabukuro said she went caroling with the group because she loves the Christmas season and wants to share that love with others.

“I want to go back on a random day and ask them how they’re doing,” she said.

Barbara Wood, a resident of Magnolia Village, said she enjoys when CBU students visit the facility.

“Christmas is a very spiritual time,” she said, “and having the girls here singing makes it feel more like Christmas.”

Residents poked their heads out of their doors as the women walked the halls, and some even made song requests.

Bernice Stankiewicz invites the women to sing in her room every year they come, and said she likes to be around the university students and appreciates that they come to visit.

“I get the tears,” she said. “I’m always touched by Christmas carols.”

CBU’s New Song choir is also going Christmas caroling this year. They will sing at senior facilities on Dec. 10 and 12, during their normal choir practice times.

The choir will be continuing a tradition started by Jaimie Killion, New Song’s director last year.

“When we go to facilities and we sing these songs, you can see tangibly the evidence of faith,” said Adrian Williams, senior sociology major and New Song member. “You can see that it means a lot through the tears and their smiles.”

Williams said being able to sing to people who need to hear the gospel is a reminder of why she is a part of choir.

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