Duke Chapel in Christmas Dress

I darkened the doorstep of the Duke Chapel today expectant to see greenery, poinsettias, and bows. Sure enough, I saw greenery, poinsettias, and bows.


A peek into the nave from the narthex revealed masses of poinsettias near the front (chancel).


A panoramic view of the nave: Duke Chapel is a “cross-shaped church” with a long isle down the middle and perpendicular sections near the front that are called transepts. In this photo, the nativity is on the back wall of the left transept and is framed in pine garland.


My favorite ‘ornament’ was the Advent wreath. For those unfamiliar with the Advent wreath (suspended from the ceiling in this picture), it is comprised of five candles. Four of the candles (often purplish in color) are lit one each week leading up to Christmas. The white candle in the middle is the Christ Candle, which is usually lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.


The circular evergreen upon which the candles rest represents the eternity of God.

Also on display in the Duke Chapel until December 30th is a collection of nine paintings by Robyn Sand Anderson that explores the visual interpretation of scared choral music.

Duke Chapel: Getting Dressed for Christmas


Duke Chapel at Christmas

Earlier this week, I stepped into Duke Chapel for the first time in many weeks and witnessed it getting dressed for Christmas. U-Haul storage boxes were stacked behind the last pews, a testament to the festive work that was well underway.

Reportedly, the decorating process takes about two days, and I was glimpsing Day 1 of the efforts. Even as a work in progress, the Chapel was gorgeous.

Here are some of the pictures that I took:


Pine wreaths adorned the entrance of the Chapel.


The narthex bore reminders of the Messiah—an annual Duke University tradition.


The gates of the Memorial Chapel, to the left of the chancel, were decorated with pine wreaths. — Duke Chapel; Durham, NC


The Advent Wreath, pictured here in the foreground, originated as a Lutheran tradition; however, many Christian denominations today use it as a symbol depicting the four weeks leading up to Christmas.


The pipe organ created a beautiful backdrop for the Advent Wreath. (Photo taken from the front of the nave looking back toward the narthex.) — Duke Chapel (Durham, NC)


The Duke Chapel nativity is handmade and beautifully illuminated year after year.

Duke Chapel will be “in full dress” for the annual Candlelight Open House on Thursday, December 18th, from 12 noon to 2pm.