MNU Choral Director and Alums Accompany Randle and Tait in 98th National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
| by Carol Best firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Christopher Smith, MNU director of choral activities and worship arts, associate professor of music, was honored with a unique opportunity to accompany award-winning Christian artists Lynda Randle and Michael Tait in their performance in the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. The virtual event presented by The National Park Foundation and The National Park Service is available to watch on-demand at thenationaltree.org starting December 3 at 5 p.m. EST and throughout the holiday season.
Smith arranged and played “O Little Town Of Bethlehem” for Randle and Tait’s virtual performance. Two MNU alums performed with Smith, Josh Hankey, a 2006 music education major on alto sax, and Andy Cook, a 2014 ministry graduate, on drums. Other musicians were Tina K’Tina Bilberry (violin) and Johnny Hamil (bass).
Hankey and Cook are frequent musicians at MNU. Hankey is the director of bands at Summit Trail Middle School in Olathe, Kansas. Cook is the assistant chaplain at MNU. Smith is well known in area choral organizations and in addition to his position at MNU is repertoire & resources chair, college/university choirs for the Kansas Choral Directors Association (KCDA)
This year’s event is highlighted by President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump lighting the National Christmas Tree at President’s Park in Washington, D.C.
Randle, a Gaither Homecoming favorite, and Tait, lead vocalist for the iconic Newsboys—join country singer/songwriter and actress Kellie Pickler; American Idol winner Laine Hardy; Platinum-selling country chart-topper Jerrod Niemann; GRAMMY®-nominated Christian artist Matthew West; and Atlantic recording artist and American Idol finalist Colton Dixon for the virtual celebration. The event will also feature The Sea Chanters, the U.S. Navy’s official chorus, and “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, among other performers.
Lighting the National Christmas Tree is one of America’s oldest holiday traditions, with the first lighting taking place in 1923 by President Calvin Coolidge. Since 1973, the National Christmas Tree has been a living tree that can be viewed year-round in Washington’s President’s Park.