Modernized Baccalaureate Aims to Please All

With Christian psalms, Hindu Upanishads and the word according to Rudenstine, the senior class will join in worship today in the Baccalaureate service at Memorial Church.

A medieval Christian rite transformed for today's secular Harvard, the service aims for interfaith inclusion.

Capped and gowned, seniors march from the Old Yard to Memorial Church behind the Class marshals and various religious and university officials, slowly crowding Memorial Church to stand waiting in the pews for the president's cue to sit.


The worship starts with a salutation from Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church and Plummer Professor of Christian Morals Peter J. Gomes.

Selections from Harvard's diverse religious traditions follow, with seniors reading from the Bible in Hebrew, the Upanishads in Sanskrit, the Koran in Arabic and the New Testament in English.

Preceded and followed by Christian hymns and prayers, President Neil L. Rudenstine will address the class with a modern take on the antique tradition of Harvard's Baccalaureate sermon.

Seating inside Memorial Church for the popular event is reserved for seniors. Parents, family members and spectators must stay outside in Tercentenary Theater, where loudspeakers broadcast the service.

Among those outside will also be the few seniors who, because of their religion, cannot join the celebration inside.

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