From the earliest days of Christianity, the notion of “offices” — devoting particular hours of the day to community prayer — was a key part of its culture. One of the most ancient offices was evening vespers, which set a liturgy of prayer and music against the shadowy backdrop of sunset.

In the 17th century, Christmas vespers in the Lutheran church was a festive, candlelit affair including popular hymns as well as large groups of singers and instrumentalists in the cathedral — a surrounding sensation of sound.

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