The 169th annual Julotta (early morning Christmas service) will be held at Augustana Lutheran Church in Andover on Wednesday, December 25, at 7 am. The early starting time and a choir anthem sung in Swedish are part of a long-standing tradition (for many years the service started at 5 am). The original street lamps, which were found in the church basement in 1981, will once again glow as they did in the 1800s to greet people as they arrive.
The service with Holy Communion begins in candlelight darkness and ends with the dawn of Christmas morning. There will be organ, senior choir, piano, and instrumental music. The liturgy and sermon by Pastor Reed Pedersen will be in English.
This service is held in a setting similar to that used by the then Swedish congregation in the 1870s when the “new” church building was completed to replace the overcrowded first structure, later named the Jenny Lind Chapel.
As worshipers arrive to celebrate Jesus’ birthday, candles illuminate the sanctuary, and a large lighted Christmas tree adorns the front.
On Christmas Eve, a relaxed family service will be held at 4 pm. at Augustana Church and will include a children’s sermon, carols, and Holy Communion.
At 11 pm, a community Christmas Eve service will be held at the candle-lit Jenny Lind Chapel and will offer carols and Holy Communion, led by Pastor Pedersen. An unadorned Christmas tree and 100 candles are placed in the Chapel as it would have been in the 1850s.
Augustana Church in Andover, which was organized in 1850, is the mother church of the former Augustana Lutheran Church in America. The first structure was completed in 1854, and in 1870 was the site of the founding of the Norwegian-Danish Lutheran Church in America. It later was named the Jenny Lind Chapel, now a ministry of the Northern Illinois Synod-ELCA. The second church structure was built in the late 1860’s, and was called “The Cathedral on the Prairie.”