Oklahoma Baptist University

Annual Hanging of the Green service set for Dec. 6

Oklahoma Baptist University’s 66th annual "Hanging of the Green" service will be held at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, December 6, in Raley Chapel's Potter Auditorium.

The theme for this year’s ceremony is "Voices of the Advent," a title taken from a book of Christmas poems entitled Voices of the Advent by Dr. William Mitchell, OBU professor emeritus of English. Mitchell’s book includes poems written as Christmas gifts to friends and colleagues, and also contains illustrations by William James Brown, professor emeritus of music. The earliest poem in the collection dates from December 1973. The book, released in its third edition in 2000, features works that have been used by several Shawnee-area churches during the Advent season. Mitchell notes "my greatest satisfaction has come from my deepening understanding of the incarnation -- of what it meant, how central it is to Christianity, and the message of it, which is ''God with us,'' or ''Emmanuel.''"

OBU Theatre students Josh Dodd, Jesse Vinyarde, Rose Marie Packer, Stephanie Stewart, and Latricia Reichmann will read excerpts from Mitchell’s poetry during the ceremony.

The program will take the format of a "Lessons and Carols" service, a structure typically used in Hanging of the Green services. Musical participants include the OBU/Shawnee Community Orchestra, conducted by Dr. Jim Hansford, the Red River String Quartet, members of the Bison Glee Club, conducted by Dr. John Simons, and members of the University Chorale and Bisonette Glee Club, conducted by Dr. Bonnie Sneed. Additional participants include the University Ringers, OBU’s handbell ensemble, conducted by Dr. Ron Davis, and an student brass ensemble, featuring Aaron Jameson, John King, David Irby, Casey Mobley, and Derek Ferguson. University Organist Dr. Ron Davis and Staff Accompanist Keith Whitmore will participate as accompanists.

Some of the carols to be heard in the service include "The Holly and the Ivy," Joy to the World," "Deck the Halls," "O Come, O Come Immanuel," "Come, Though Long Expected Jesus," "Away in a Manger," "The First Nowell," and "We Three Kings of Orient Are." Additional works include the "allegro" from the Op. 76 No.2 string quartet of Haydn, a setting of "Feliz Navidad" by OBU graduate Hart Morris, "Ohf Star" by Baylor University composer James Bennighof," and "Variations on a Noel" arranged by Dr. Davis.

"The Hanging of the Green service affords the OBU and Shawnee communities an opportunity to welcome in the holiday season by showcasing some of our outstanding student ensembles in a festive and meaningful atmosphere" states Dr. James Vernon, associate professor of music and chair of the Division of Music.

Traditionally, 20 outstanding students nominated by the faculty and subsequently selected by committee as honorees at the Hanging of the Green ceremony. These students represent a wide variety of majors, disciplines, and hometowns. "OBU's Hanging of the Green is an experience rich with tradition that provides the OBU community an opportunity to honor students who, while very deserving, have not received the recognition they otherwise merit," said Monica Mullins, assistant dean of students.

This year’s honorees include Heidi Burkhart (Choctaw, cross cultural ministry and family development major), Erin Canty Coursey (Shawnee, math major), Kelly Davis (Colorado Springs, Colo., nursing major), Elizabeth Diefenderfer (Oklahoma City, family development major), Erin Funk (Aurora, Colo., nursing major), Devin Holmes (Meeker, physics major), Tyler James (Marshall, Texas, telecommunications major), Jeff Kasterke (Shawnee, finance major), Aaron Kelley (Clinton, interdisciplinary major), Stephen King (Amarillo, Texas, organ performance major), Mike Latshaw (Lake St. Louis, Mo., religion major), Tiffanie Pearce (Wichita, Kan., speech and drama education major), Bryan Ratanasin (Mustang, Bible major), Andrew Ridgway (Sofia, Bulgaria, English major), Melissa Rogers (Hobbs, N.M., English education major), Tristan Shutt (San Antonio, Texas, public relations major), Lauren Stone (Tulsa, family development major), Leslie Tabor (Chickasha, English major), Benny Wallace (Sulphur, cross-cultural ministry major), and Mindy Wolff (Tulsa, multilingual communication major).

The first OBU Hanging of the Green ceremony was held in WMU Memorial Hall, one of the women's dormitories on campus. After the singing of carols, representatives from all dormitories lit candles of good will from the candle at WMU and carried the light to their own halls. The custom of "hanging the green" has continued through the years, though it moved in 1945 to the newly-completed Brittain Hall Library, in 1947 to the University Auditorium, and in 1961 to Raley Chapel.

For more information, please contact the OBU Division of Music, 405-878-2306, or music@okbu.edu.

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