Traditional Shawnee Christmas Celebration Adds New Elements

New lighting, stage, and sound capabilities in a reconstructed performance arena will add a modern flare to the traditional performance of OBU's Hanging of the Green, "Christmas Is ...," Saturday, Dec. 2, at 7:30 p.m., in Raley Chapel's newly refurbished Potter Auditorium.

"We've never before had enough lights to cover all the faces of the ensemble members," said Jack Pearson, associate professor of music and director of the Bisonettes. "We will now have more capabilities to light the entire set, adding to the gaiety of the program."

Ushering in the beginning of the holiday season for the University, OBU's choral and instrumental ensembles will showcase Christmas music from secular and sacred origins. The University Chorale, Bison and Bisonette Glee Clubs, University Ringers, and Symphonic Band will perform as individual groups and as a combined group.

The Shawnee Honor Choir, an auditioned group of fourth- through sixth-graders from Shawnee and the surrounding area, will perform with the groups on combined-ensemble musical numbers.

The program's theme defines various aspects of Christmas.

"The program is designed to speak to the many facets of the holiday season, both secular and sacred," said Norma Partridge, assistant professor of music.

OBU President and First Lady Mark and Rhonda Brister; David Byland, assistant professor of telecommunication; and several music faculty children will read stories and scripture during the evening's activities.

The audience will be able to participate in the festivities during a sing-a-long portions of the program.

"The event will begin a period of celebration that will peak four weeks later on Christmas Day," said Dr. John Simons, associate professor of church music and director of the Bison Glee Club. "I hope the service will not only begin the Advent season for OBU, but also bring a sense of beginning to the greater Shawnee community of faith."

The evening also will feature the presentation of 10 senior women and 10 senior men nominated by the faculty for academic achievement to "hang the green."

Two Shawnee residents will be among the 20 that are recognized: Ashlie Anderson, an exercise science major, is the daughter of Jeff and Betty Anderson, now of Hannibal, Mo., and Jennifer Brittain, an exercise science major, is the daughter of Mike & Debbie Brittain.

Other seniors that will be included in the grand procession are: Scott Alexander, family psychology major from Edmond; Courtney Boland, family development major from Sanger, Texas; Ryan Burk, computer science major from Bedford, Texas; Chad Evans, computer science major from Midland, Texas; Marlon Funez, Bible major from Houston, Texas; Sarah Gipson, communications major from Norman; Michael Paul James, religion major from McAlester; Steven Jones, II, music education major from Goddard, Kan.; Todd Lambert, biblical languages major from Broken Arrow; Adrienne McCaskill, elementary education major from Allen, Texas; Krista Nelson, piano and political science major from Camarillo, Calif.; Alissa Jo Price, English education major from Ft. Gibson; Joel Sprague, public relations major from Bedford, Texas; Michelle Stone, early childhood and elementary education major from Tulsa; Scott Timmons, finance major from McAlester; Teresa Tucker, nursing major from Troy, Ill.; Jeremy Upchurch, telecommunications major from Midland, Texas; and Jessica Winderweedle, musical arts major from Vinita.

The first OBU ceremony was held in the WMU Memorial Hall. Following the singing of carols, representatives from all dormitories lit candles of good will from the candle there and carried the light to their own houses.

This custom continued until 1945, when the ceremony was moved to the newly completed Brittain Hall Library. In 1957, the ceremony was held in the University Auditorium, and in 1961 was held for the first time in the John W. Raley Chapel.

The 2000 celebration marks the sixty-third annual Hanging of the Green at Oklahoma Baptist University.

"Christmas programs such as this serve as markers of time that help us understand ourselves, family members, friends, and God," said Simons.