Southern Agenda

Stars Upon the Highest Bough

Hole-punched paper snow drifts down from the hands of vocalists, adding to the homespun holiday vibe at Belhaven University’s Singing Christmas Tree. Known as “the longest running singing Christmas tree in the world,” this Jackson tradition has been rooted in Yazoo clay since 1933. On the first Friday and Saturday of December, the capital city resounds with “Jingle Bells” and other seasonal classics as a thirty-five-foot riser built in the shape of an evergreen tree stands tall in Belhaven Bowl Stadium, the school’s football field. One hundred singers—community members, Belhaven students, faculty, and alumni—fill the stands. Choir members don robes etched with sparkles, reflecting the lights from the candles they hold. Spectators’ favorites include “Let It Snow” and “O Holy Night,” the latter performed by a soloist perched at the top of the tree. “The audience is as important as the tree itself,” director Tim Walker says. “It is a beautiful dance between the audience and the vocalists that I get to feel as a conductor.”