Regardless of country, culture or era, people have always loved a good story.

And in Ireland, storytelling is one of the main forms of fireside entertainment.

This year’s Christmas Vespers, titled “A Gift of Love,” tells the story of a young Irish couple, Donagh and Kailin, who are living in South Carolina. In the process, Donagh comes to know Christ.

The program will be presented Thursday at 7 and 8:30 p.m. in Rodeheaver Auditorium.

The Irish people love gathering together to sing and exchange stories, especially around the holidays, according to Dr. Ryan Meers, the program’s director and chairman of the Division of Communication.

The audience is meant to be viewing the drama from inside the couple’s home in Upstate South Carolina in the late 1800s.

Donagh, who is being played by staff GA Mr. Johnathan Schofield, speaks directly to the audience, relaying his narrative.

“The whole town comes over to hear the love story of Kailin and Donagh,” said Miss Lauren Jacobs, a faculty GA studying dramatic arts who will be portraying the role of Kailin. “In my mind, that’s quite a bit of cooking and cleaning, but this couple thrives on Irish tradition and having a full house for the holidays.”

As the title suggests, love is the program’s focus. The life-altering message of Christ’s love that He showed by giving His life­—not just by coming to earth—is exemplified, as well as unconditional, persistent and even moment-to-moment forms of love.

“This is our chance as a university family to come together for a sacred Christmas celebration,” Dr. Meers said. “The lighting ceremony is like the fun, family gathering for decorating the Christmas tree. Vespers, to me, is like the Christmas Eve service.”

The story of Donagh and Kailin is interspersed with live musicians performing Celtic instrumentals and vocals on stage.

There will be a few Christmas carols the audience will sing along with, as well.

Dr. Meers specified that it’s not traditional Celtic music. Celtic is a wide genre and the term encompasses different aspects to different people. Instead, there will be a “South Carolina flavor” to the music.