The oldest singing Christmas tree in the United States started in Mississippi, in Jackson, on the campus of a small liberal arts college.
While it doesn’t involve an actual tree — no enchanted, musical pine boughs — it does involve a choir standing on risers to create the shape of a tree.
In 1933, a music professor at Belhaven University came up with the idea as a way to give back to the community. He recruited an engineer to build a frame for the choir to stand on, the choir debuted that December, and it’s become an annual tradition.
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A current professor, Bettye Quinn, has watched the tree sing for 78 years.
“I remember when I was three in 1937 and a family friend brought me to see the Belhaven singing Christmas tree,” she said in a university press release. “At the time the tree was a group of 50 girls on a platform between the columns, they had on white robes and held bright lights that reflected into the lagoon. It was just a glorious sight for a little child to see.”
Over the years the tree has gotten taller and brighter. “Candles were exchanged for LED lights, voices and music were amplified and more singers were added each year,” the university said. It now holds 100 singers and lights change in patterns for each carol.
The 2018 performance happened Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, but those who missed it can still watch a video replay.