Bob Jones University will feature its annual Christmas lighting ceremony tonight at 6:30 p.m. with some additions to the usual lineup.

Dr. Steve Pettit will perform an instrumental rendition of “Jingle Bells” on his mandolin; vocal ensemble Opus Six will perform “O Holy Night;” and the audience will sing the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah.

Before the ceremony begins, the Bob Jones Academy Elementary Vocal Ensemble will perform a Christmas concert at 6:10 p.m.

Dr. Ed Dunbar, division chair for the Division of Music said he is happy to highlight the elementary school during an event like the lighting ceremony.

Dr. David Parker of the music faculty will lead the ceremony. For this year, Parker will change some of the events and add new songs while also keeping crowd favorites such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

Dr. Pettit will perform “Jingle Bells” with students Sara Beam on the violin, Raul Lopez on the guitar and Scott Graham on double bass.Dr. Kenon Renfrow will accompany the group on the piano. This song will be the first instrumental number ever performed for the ceremony.

During the ceremony, graduate student Daniel Griffin will sing “Silent Night” and Tina Nguyen, also a graduate student, will sing “Away in a Manger.”

The program culminates with Opus Six singing “O Holy Night.” True to tradition, the first stanza will be sung by the audience, and then the group will continue acapella in a tight harmony.

At the climaxing note, the lights turn on, bathing the campus in Christmas cheer.

Dr. Parker started having students and various ensembles perform special songs six years ago to make student groups more prominent.

“It just gives students more opportunities to be featured,” Parker said.

The end of the ceremony will bring the biggest change to the program. Instead of the traditional hymns sung at the end, everyone will sing the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah.
“The choir will be up there helping,” Parker said. “We’ve already got the slides where it says “hallelujah” seven times.”

Pam Cushman, director of events, and David Orr of the Welcome Center are planning the details of the ceremony. Cushman said working with both events will be a lot of work for BJU’s music faculty.

“Both events are very important,” Cushman said. “Everybody’s putting their whole heart into both [programs].”

Aside from how busy Friday will be, students are excited for the lighting ceremony.

Hannah Smith, a junior journalism and mass communication major, said she goes with friends to the lighting ceremony and enjoys the outreach opportunities it provides.

“I think it’s a great time where the BJU community can reach out to the Greenville community,” Smith said. “It brings both communities together.”

As many as 4,000 people are expected for the lighting ceremony and for Living Gallery. 

Living Gallery productions  will be held before the ceremony at 4:30 p.m. and after the ceremony at 8 p.m.