In 1929 Presser hall was built on the campus of Bethany college. Since then, Presser Hall has hosted every performance of the Passion on Good Friday evening during each Messiah Festival of the Arts.
The Passion is a remarkable piece, a retelling of the story of Christ’s crucifixion set to music.
Through the music, the listener experiences the events leading to Christ’s crucifixion using the words of the people who were there. For the first time since the opening of Presser Hall at Bethany College, Bethany Oratorio Society's performance of Bach's "The Passion According to St. Matthew" will again take place in its original setting, Bethany Lutheran Church.
Take part in this tradition on March 30 at 7:30 p.m. at Bethany Lutheran Church, located at 320 N. Main St. in Lindsborg.
To purchase your tickets to this historic performance, visit https://www.messiahfestival.org/shop.
The Bethany Oratorio Society began with just forty parishioners in December of 1881. Almost all of them were immigrants who spoke only Swedish and lived as pioneers in sod houses or dugouts. At the invitation of Pastor Carl Aaron Swensson and his wife Alma, they met at the parsonage to learn not just the music, but also the English words of Handel's "Messiah."
Alma Swensson, an accomplished musician, taught music in the early years of the College and served for forty years as the organist of Bethany Church. During a handful of weeks prior to Easter that winter and spring she worked diligently to teach Handel's "Messiah" to the newly formed Bethany Oratorio Society. So it was, on March 28, 1882, the Bethany Oratorio Society gave their very first performance at Bethany Lutheran Church.
In 1925, the Bethany Oratorio Society expanded their repertoire to include a performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s great chorale, "The Passion According to St. Matthew."