AU Traditions: Decker Caroling



Every December, dozens of students, faculty, and staff at Anderson University come together to get Ravens in the holiday spirit before parting ways for Christmas break. Once a day for an entire week, their voices can be heard echoing throughout Decker Hall as they sing classic Christmas melodies.

The tradition, known as “Caroling in Decker,” dates back to at the ’90s, and typically takes place during final exam week. It has become a favorite tradition of many Ravens, including former AU Provost Dr. Joel Shrock.

“Caroling in the Decker central stair is a decades-long tradition that unites the campus in celebration of the Christmas season and our primary reason for existing — putting Jesus Christ at the center of all we do,” said Shrock.

Shrock is hardly alone in his appreciation of the tradition. Dr. Jeffrey Wright, dean of the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, has enjoyed the annual caroling ever since his arrival on campus in 1995. 

Singing has always been important to the university, Wright explained, and communal singing remains one of the defining qualities of the AU community. But that’s not the only reason Caroling in Decker has been around for so many years. The central staircase in Decker’s reverberant acoustical properties make it the ideal place for making music.

Over the years, a variety of groups have participated in the caroling, including choral ensembles, foreign language classes, and student groups/organizations. That’s Wright’s favorite part of the tradition.

“It shows that you don’t have to be a music major or an accomplished musician to participate in a meaningful musical tradition,” said Wright. “Music is for everyone, and the Decker stairwell is the ultimate egalitarian expression of music. Music holds us together in mystical ways, and that has never been more needed than it is now.”

For President John Pistole, there’s a deeper importance of the long-standing holiday tradition that goes beyond the act of singing.

“For everyone who pauses to listen, we hope to remind them of the joy we experience because of the birth of Jesus,” said Pistole. “It’s a great reminder of our opportunity to continually connect the sacred with the secular, being light and salt in a hurting world.”

AU Christmas wreath

Anderson University is on a mission to educate students for lives of faith and service, offering more than 60 undergraduate majors, 30 three-year degrees, 20 NCAA Division III intercollegiate sports, alongside adult and graduate programs. The private, liberal arts institution is fully accredited and recognized among top colleges for its business, computer science, cybersecurity, dance, engineering, nursing, and teacher education programs. Anderson University was established in 1917 in Anderson, Indiana, by the Church of God.