Come Join the Annual Singing Christmas Tree as a Singer December 1 and 2, 2023
The Singing Christmas Tree is a rich Belhaven tradition, enjoyed by more than a thousand people each year. This annual event, started in 1933, is considered to be the world's oldest outdoor singing Christmas tree tradition.
Singing Christmas Tree Information
Yes, we would love to have you join us! There is no audition, just participate!
Tree singers fill the tree from top to bottom and sing to pre-recorded instrumental tracks as LED lights programmed to the music light up the tree in hundreds of different colors and combinations!
Singers are asked to attend three rehearsals convenient for them from six rehearsals offered.
In person rehearsals for adults participating in the Singing Christmas Tree will be held in the Center for the Arts at Belhaven. The date and times are as follows:
- Monday, September 11 - 7:30 p.m.
- Monday, October 2 - 7:30 p.m.
- Monday, October 16 - 7:30 p.m.
- Thursday, November 2 - 6:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, November 14 - 6:30 p.m.
- Monday, November 27 - 6:30 p.m.
Participants are also asked to attend the dress rehearsal and both presentations.
- Thursday, November 30 (Dress Rehearsal at 6:00 p.m., call time in gym by the Belhaven Bowl stadium)
- Friday, December 1 (Presentation at 7:30 p.m., call time 6:30 pm in gym by stadium)
- Saturday, December 2 (Presentation at 7:30 p.m., call time 6:30 pm in gym by stadium)
We want you to participate, and understand attending the rehearsals offered on campus September - November aren't an option for you. Music and rehearsal tracks can be emailed directly to you.
If you can attend the November 30th dress rehearsal and presentations – and are committed to regularly listening to all the musical selections – you are welcome to join us as long as there is space on the tree.
To reserve your spot, complete the Commitment Card. Be sure to indicate you are an out-of-town participant, planning to join us for the dress rehearsal Thursday evening, December 1, at 6:00 pm.
That’s great news; we are glad to have you be part of the 2023 Singing Christmas Tree!
Fill out the Commitment Card to let us know of your intent to participate.
Music and part-dominant rehearsal tracks may be picked up in the Belhaven Music Office M-F 9am-4pm.
Printed music and rehearsal audio demos teaching the soprano/alto/tenor/bass parts on applicable songs are available for pick-up in the music office located in the Center for the Arts on Riverside Drive. Music and audio will be emailed to our-of-town participants.
The Singing Christmas tree began as an informal gathering for faculty and students to come watch Belhaven music professor Mignonne Caldwell’s all female choir sing in the formation of a Christmas tree. Realizing that members of the community would enjoy witnessing this event, Caldwell moved the concert outside, between Preston and Fitzhugh Halls. The first wooden tree frame for the choir was constructed by Mr. C. V. McLain, a College engineer. Thus, the outdoor Belhaven College (now Belhaven University) Singing Christmas Tree tradition was born.
Caldwell directed the outdoor Singing Christmas Tree event until her retirement in 1962. At that time, Henry Thomas Ford, Director of the Concert Choir, began directing the Tree. Belhaven had since become a co-educational institution so Ford added men to the chorus. A new, taller tree frame was constructed to accommodate the new male voices.
Today, members of the Belhaven Concert Choir, along with alumni, faculty and staff, typically perform the outdoor Singing Christmas Tree concert on the first weekend in December. A large new 35 foot tall wooden and metal tree structure accommodates up to 100 singers. Performers wear white robes with reflective collars and tiaras to heighten the visual impact of the tree.
Certain traditions have become expected elements to the tree. An auditioned soloist is positioned under the star located at the very top of the tree. This honored soloist performs "O Holy Night" near the Tree's conclusion. Other traditions include artificial snowfall during "White Christmas" and humorous "insider jokes" interposed into the lyrics of "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and other secular carols.
The second half of the Singing Christmas Tree celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ through Scripture and sacred carols. The great sacred music of Christmas offers a great opportunity for Belhaven University to testify of the lordship and saving grace of Jesus Christ to the large numbers of attendees.
The Singing Christmas Tree tradition continues serving the Jackson community by providing a spiritually edifying, fun-filled event of visual and musical splendor.
Southern Living highlights a Belhaven Christmas Tradition
Belhaven's oldest and most famous tradition -the Singing Christmas Tree -is highlighted in the December 2008 edition of Southern Living magazine: "If heaven had a school choir, this would be it," begins the article by Farrah Austin. Everyone familiar with the Belhaven Singing Christmas Tree knows that it is a special event for the entire community. As Austin notes, "Families gather to witness what most call the start of the holiday season in Jackson, Mississippi."
For over 75 years, families, students, and neighbors have flocked to the Belhaven Singing Christmas Tree, and large crowds are expected once again this year, with an estimated number in the thousands. Roberta Sachs, junior voice major, will be at the tree's pinnacle as the chosen soloist. Eighty students will don their robes and hold their lights, forming the yearly glow that fills the campus with joyful sounds.
See news release published on November 14, 2005:
Named One of The Top 20 Events In The Southeast
Belhaven College will host its 73rd Annual presentation of the Belhaven Singing Christmas Tree on December 2-3. A Belhaven tradition since 1933, the event was recently name one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society, an organization dedicated to the marketing and promotion of travel to and within the great Southeastern States.
"What a wonderful honor given to such a timeless southern tradition," said Dr. Roger Parrott, president, Belhaven College. "We are thankful for the privilege to present the Singing Christmas Tree on our campus as a gift to Mississippi, now for more than seven decades. And, we are pleased the replicas of the Singing Christmas Tree have carried forward in thousands of churches all around the world during the Christmas season."
The Belhaven Singing Christmas Tree is an outdoor choral performance of the holiday season's favorite carols. This year, the concert will feature the collaboration of members of the greater Jackson community and college musicians under the direction of Mrs. Carolyn Sachs, adjunct music professor.
Belhaven University Singing Christmas Tree
Verse of the Year
God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.