Belhaven University in Jackson Keeps the Singing Christmas Tree Alive

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More than 1,000 guests are expected at Belhaven University in early December for one of the institution’s and the area’s most celebrated annual events, the “Singing Christmas Tree.”

Now in his 90th year, the musical event is scheduled for 7:30 pm on December 2 and 3 at the university’s Belhaven Bowl Stadium. If not the oldest Christmas event in the area, it surely is Jackson’s most unusual Christmas gathering.

The event features a 40-foot metal and wood tree structure with more than 100 men and women perched in its branches singing. The show will begin with a six-minute collage of favorite Christmas songs, including the ever-popular “Feliz Navidad,” first made popular in 1970 by Puerto Rican singer-songwriter José Feliciano. The LED lights will change color in various patterns and sequences with each different music selection.

But the 2022 tree will also offer more than just a traditional music and light show.

“Last year we reimagined what the Christmas Tree could be while keeping some of the original elements,” said Dr. Tim Walker, Director of Belhaven Choral Arts.

Noting that Belhaven is one of 35 nationally accredited colleges in all arts, Walker said the decision was made to add more theater elements to the program, involving both theater and dance students.

During this sequence, the choir will present their rendition of “The Prayer,” a song originally released in the 1990s by Canadian singer Celine Dion and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli. The duo regained popularity in 2008 when Dion teamed up with Josh Groban for a new live version of the song.

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The theatrical elements “add a whole other layer to the performance,” said David Sprayberry, Belhaven’s Director of Public Relations.

Traditional Christmas carols and classics like Rudolph the Red-Headed Reindeer are performed at Belhaven University's Singing Christmas Tree.

There will also be a special children’s choir performing “Silent Night.” The choir will be made up of students from St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, First Presbyterian Day School, Christ Covenant School and Madison Ridgeland Academy.

After the songs opening melody, the story of the birth of Jesus will be told through costumes and narration. From the back of the audience will appear the elders of the dance, dressed as angels with beautiful illuminated wings.