County Road 11: Singing Christmas Tree

By  | 

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) -- There's a of great holiday traditions in east Mississippi and west Alabama and one of those came to a close last weekend.

Franklin Denham performing at the Singing Christmas Tree (Photo Source: WTOK-TV)

After over 30 years and almost 200 presentations, Franklin Denham is retiring as music minister at Highland Baptist Church in Meridian.

It was the end of an era last weekend at Highland Baptist Church in Meridian. Franklin Denham, the music minister, presided over his 198th and final presentation of the Singing Christmas Tree. It was a night packed with emotion after a 33 year run by one of this area's top holiday traditions.

"I didn't look at many choir members because I knew that if I looked at them, and they begin to cry like I was, I wouldn't have any singers," said Denham.

There has been a ton of musicians, singers and songs over the past three decades. The most popular song throughout the years has been, "I Have Seen the Light."

"I have seen the light. I have over the years had people stop me on the street, grocery store, Wal-Mart, that I don't even know. They would say, 'y'all are doing the song this year,' " said Denham.

Franklin, who had a bout with cancer but is now in remission, says everything about the Singing Christmas Tree is done by volunteers: assembly, disassembling, decorations, and construction. Despite a lot of changes throughout the year, one thing remained constant.

"I use presentation only because I want to make sure it maintains a spiritual emphasis," said Denham.

The final show ended with a standing ovation.

Denham was named the music minister at Highland Baptist Church back in 1979.

The tree is 35 feet tall, has nine levels and holds 107 singers. In 33 years, there were 198 presentations.