Keeping with a beloved campus tradition, the Villanova Singers held their annual Singing Valentine delivery on Sunday, Feb. 14. While certain aspects of the day’s events looked different to follow Community First guidelines and maintain social distancing, the spirit of the valentine delivery maintained its usual air of surprise, love and song.
The Villanova Singers, the university’s all-male choral group dating back to 1953, has been tirelessly delivering valentines on Villanova’s campus since 1979. For the past four decades, it has included countless renditions of “You Are My Valentine” (set to the tune of “You Are My Sunshine”) across campus from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. each Valentine’s Day.
“Usually, it’s composed of quartets—four guys in tuxes—roving campus,” said senior and Villanova Singers President Benjamin Crawford. “We do wake-up calls, visits to faculty and staff offices, classroom visits and videos.”
Singing Valentines are a tradition cherished by everyone on campus, and the annual excitement is particularly special to the members of Villanova Singers. Crawford described the delight of delivering valentines as two-fold: spreading messages of love across the community and strengthening the brotherhood and bond of the Singers themselves.
“It’s a singular, unique experience to this group,” Crawford said.
For an organization centered around brotherhood and song, this event serves to celebrate the core values of the Villanova Singers.
This year, due to concerns surrounding campus COVID-19 infection rates, the Singers stuck to a strictly virtual format to ensure the safety of all parties involved. Members of the community could purchase and request a song delivery to their valentine over the phone, sung by a Singer live at the time of the purchaser’s choosing, or through a video via email. Orders were accepted until midnight on Feb. 13, and the Singers set about delivering the valentine messages throughout the day on Feb. 14.
Though some familiar elements of the in-person deliveries, like boisterous six-o’clock wake-up serenades or theatrical in-class performances, were missing this year, the Singers stayed true to their mission of celebrating love from a distance.
“I would hope that recipients feel a little spark of joy,” Crawford said.
Considering reactions to Singing Valentines, Crawford noted the role these musical messages could play as cheerful moments amidst the stress of college life, especially during the University’s current two-week “Slow the Spread” directive.
Freshman Rachel Rhee, one such valentine recipient, was impressed.
“My virtual singing valentine was such a nice surprise,” she said. “I really enjoyed it, and I was so glad that they still found a way to bring people smiles through music despite the pandemic.
Typically, Singing Valentines serves as a major fundraiser for the Villanova Singers to help fund their travels across the country and internationally. The group has traveled to perform in Brazil, Italy, Austria, Germany, Spain, Puerto Rico and many other destinations in recent years.
Considering current holds on travel, however, Villanova Singers leadership decided to alter the cause for this year’s proceeds. In reaction to extreme need seen in the greater Philadelphia area since the onset of the pandemic crisis, the Singers shifted focus to help where help was needed—all proceeds from this year’s Singing Valentines will go toward Philabundance, the largest hunger relief organization in the Delaware Valley.
This uniquely charitable mission made the loving mission of Singing Valentines all the more powerful, arguably creating an even greater impact this year compared to more normal circumstances. Though perhaps appearing in unconventional ways, love was certainly in the air on campus and beyond this Valentine’s Day thanks to the talents of the Villanova Singers.