Although it is traditionally held on the first Sunday in January, “the Olde Christmas Musical Celebration: An Afternoon of Seasonal Music” at Prince George’s Chapel in Dagsboro happens to fall this year on Jan. 6, which is also known as the Feast of the Epiphany, or the 12th day of Christmas.
The chapel, built in 1755 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1971, was named for the man who would become England’s King George III. It is rarely used for public services today; the Olde Christmas program offers the public a chance to see the historic building, and to enjoy its acoustics.
“You can hear the music so pure,” said Vickie Veasey, whose family has sung in the annual program for several years and who is one of the event’s organizers. “The high ceilings carry the sound so good,” she said, owing to the wooden “barrel” ceiling in the sanctuary.
“It’s a really a good thing to sing in there,” Veasey said.
Each year, local singers and church choirs are invited to lead the singing, and the audience is welcome to sing along. This year, in addition to Veasey and three members of her family, singers will include Brian Lewis, Bill Day, Gus and Laura Glaros, and Jack Andrews.
Veasey said she enjoys the atmosphere of the church and the holiday event, “and the people, too.”
Although there is no admission fee for the program, Veasey said donations are welcome “to help keep the chapel going.” The historic structure is maintained by the Friends of Prince George’s Chapel.
The church was built as a “chapel of ease” for St. Martin’s Church, in the Worcester Parish of Maryland. The “chapel of ease” designation was given to churches serving outlying areas where it would be difficult for people to travel to the main church. The church was expanded in 1763 with a transept and a chancel, both of which were later removed.
The heart-pine ceiling and timbered pine pillars are prime features of the building, as are the boxed-in pews.
The church had fallen into disrepair in the 1960s. It was purchased in 1967 by the State of Delaware, and renovated.
Veasey said the “Olde Christmas” program is one of the few times during the year that there are public events held at the chapel. A hymn sing is sometimes held in the fall, as well as an Easter sunrise service, she said.
The “Olde Christmas Musical Celebration” will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 6. The 90-minute program is free and open to the public, but donations are welcome.
Prince George’s Chapel is located at 32040 Ward Lane, Dagsboro.
By Kerin Magill