The service at the College of Charleston's arena began with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, followed by a procession with the Charleston Pipe and Drum playing "Amazing Grace," CBS affiliate WCSC-TV reported.
"Our sisters and brothers who are gone would say to let our light shine while we have it," the Rev. Jeremy Rutledge told the audience.
State Sen. Marlon Kimpson spoke of his colleague, the Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney, saying Pinckney understood the meaning of a sanctuary as a place of refuge.
"God will be with us when evil is brought to justice for violating our sanctuary," Kimpson said.
The program featured a variety of speakers, including Charleston Mayor Joe Riley.
"Let's keep these nine people and their families in our prayers and never forget them," Riley said.
"If that young man thought he was going to divide this country... he miserably failed," the mayor continued, referring to suspected gunman Dylann Roof.
A bond hearing was held Friday for the 21-year-old, who has been charged with nine counts of murder and a firearms offense. Roof spoke only a few words in response to the judge's questions and did not enter a plea.
Relatives of the victims gave emotional statements during the hearing, some telling Roof that despite their heartbreak, they forgive him.
At the vigil, the Rev. Nelson Rivers of Charity Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston told victims' relatives to contact him if they needed anything -- including a church for funeral services since theirs may be off limits during the investigation.
Rabbi Stephanie Alexander said the same hatred that killed four girls in Birmingham, Alabama, was responsible for the Charleston slayings more than 50 years later.
"How do we eradicate the hate? How do we eradicate the violence?" she said. "We search, but we search together."
The crowd locked arms and sang "We Shall Overcome" at the end of the event.