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Chapel prank descends on town hall chapel

As far as we know, the first chapel prank of this school year took place on Feb. 22 during our annual town hall chapel. Sophomore Caleb Krumsieg initiated the prank by telling President Philip Ryken he had a question regarding Mark 2, the story of a paralyzed man who was lowered through a roof by his friends.
As he read the passage for context, sophomore Parker Samuelson, dressed in a toga, descended on a rope from the ceiling catwalk. Undistracted by the crowd’s applause and laughter, Krumsieg continued reading while Samuelson safely reached the ground. There, sophomore Hudson Thomas, also wearing a toga, untied him from the rope as the pair finished acting out the text.
Freshman Tyler Peterson remarked, “It was the perfect prank, and I’m excited to see what will happen again in the next three years I’m here.” Chapel pranks have been a frequent occurrence over the past few decades, and students have come to expect at least one or two a year. Past years have featured pranksters dropping rats  wearing parachutes from the ceiling catwalk and releasing loose marbles down the seats and aisles. A previous president’s car was even “borrowed” and left on the front stage.
Ministry associate for care and administration Marilyn Brenner shared another prank that occurred during her time working at Wheaton. During the first chapel at the beginning of every school year, students are welcomed by faculty dressed in regalia who invite the students to sing the hymn “Give Thanks to God on High” alongside them. In 2002, a group of mischievous students snuck into Edman the night before and covered the hymn in all the student hymnals with a unique rendition they created. They rewrote a notation at the top of the page to say “on the first occasion of the first chapel prank at Wheaton College chapel, 2002-03 school year.”

A copy of the chapel prank hymn lyrics from 2002. Photo courtesy

The newly changed verses included, “The management must stop, They’re changing ev’ry thing we liked,” “The only time you’ll think of dating is to find a wife!” and “Christ and His Kingdom, this hymn drives us insane.” The next morning at chapel, the faculty began to realize something was amiss when the students started to get excited. Fortunately, the hymnal books were not permanently damaged and the “replacement” hymns were easily removed.
In a conversation with The Record, Brenner wanted to remind students that although some pranks are entertaining, they can distract from the purpose of attending chapel: worshipping God as a community. Brenner noted that with each prank, the attention and respect the students were directing towards celebrating God was briefly diminished. However, she admitted that some pranks can be understandable and humorous – in the right context.

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