CHOIRS: This pageant calls for an adult choir and a junior choir, seated separately.
COSTUMING: French children wear sweaters
German children wear short pants, bright suspenders, and colorful hats with long feathers.
English carolers wear mufflers, mittens, and high top hats.
Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds, wear traditional costuming, with long robes, sashes, turbans, and beards.
Candlelighters wear white capes with large bows, and light candles from a lighted one which they hold.
ENTRANCES: All participants enter from
rear of auditorium, using the center aisle (except candlelighters, who
aisles, and carolers, who enter from side of platform.) All exit to the side of the platform, return from this place for the closing circle, and then orderly exit at front after benediction.
NARRATOR: "For God so loved
the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth
in Him should
not perish, but have everlasting life." Every word in this great text is significant, but of special significance is the word world. "For God so loved the world." Sometimes we here in America act - as if Christmas belonged to us as if it were an American holiday. We forget that our customs have come to us from other lands, and that it was very far away that Christ was born. Some of the customs you will hear about tonight may seem strange to you, but they are as beloved by the people of other lands as our own customs are beloved by us. You may be surprised to discover how many of our own traditions have been borrowed from the people of other nations. Come with us tonight as we listen to the beautiful carols and view the inspiring customs of "Christmas Around the World."
(Organist begins playing softly "The First Noel.")
NARRATOR: In France, we find the custom of making a Christmas scene. Each home has its homemade creche, which is the center of its decorations. The churches have ornate and elaborately lighted nativity scenes, which are the center of their services on Christmas Eve. Tonight the people of France will be singing the beautiful carol, "The First Noel."
(As the choir sings "The First Noel," children come in carrying manger and doll and prepare the nativity scene, then leave.)
NARRATOR: Another carol, unfamiliar to us but beloved by them, tells of a mother asking her daughter to come with her to see the baby Jesus.
(Junior choir sings "Bring a Torch, Jeannete Isabella.)
NARRATOR: In the Ukraine tonight, the songs of joy will not be heard. The Christmas bells will not ring out over the fertile farmlands, calling the worshipers to praise the Son of God. The iron curtain has fallen, and the dictators have decreed that there is no God. We can be certain, though, that many there will be remembering Christmases of long ago, and, though tongues and bells are silenced, in their hearts they will be praising God. Perhaps they will even secretly teach their children this old Ukranian song, "The Bell Carol."
(Choir sings "Ukranian Bell Carol," also called "Ring, Silver Bells.")
NARRATOR: In Ireland, we find the custom of candle-lighting. Every home has a lighted candle in the window, and the door is left open to signify that there is room in this home for the Lord Jesus.
(As Junior Choir sings "Room in My Heart, Lord Jesus," children enter and light candles previously placed in the windows and on the platform.)
NARRATOR: The Czechoslovakian people usher in Christmas with the ending of all quarrels. Friend and foe are visited and misunderstandings are settled. It would not be proper, they feel, to celebrate the birthday of the Prince of Peace if there were no peace in the hearts of His children. This feeling is echoed in the words of the lovely carol "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."
(Soloist sings "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.")
NARRATOR: Germany has given us many of the customs we now call our own. One that has a permanent place in our culture is the Christmas tree, and the very meaningful Christmas tree carol, "O Tannenbaum."
(As Junior Choir sings "O Christmas Tree," children enter with a small tree on a stand, which they place on the platform and decorate, then leave.)
NARRATOR: We are indebted to Germany also for probably the best-loved and most-sung Christmas carol, "Silent Night."
(Choir sings "Silent Night.")
NARRATOR: In England, we find the custom of caroling, visiting the sick and lonely to spread Christmas cheer. Listen to England's most often sung carol.
(Men in Choir sing "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" as children dressed as carolers, with mufflers, mittens, and songbooks enter, pose as if caroling, and then leave on final verse.)
NARRATOR: Here in America, a most important part of Christmas is the acting out of the story of Jesus birth. All over our land, children in churches and schools are doing as these children are tonight.
(As Choir sings "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear," children dressed as Mary and Joseph enter and take places at manger left by earlier group. Shepherds then enter and kneel at manger. On the final verse, all leave.)
NARRATOR: Our country is one of great variety. Our people have different ancestries, different customs, and different ways to express their universal joy over the birth of Christ. Because of the great suffering of the American Negro, his music is especially touching and, at Christmas, especially joyous. Here is an old spiritual that seems to throb with the very pulse beat of life, "Rise Up, Shepherds, and Foller."
(Choir sings "Rise Up, Shepherds, and Foller.")
NARRATOR: Many of England's early colonists settled in the land-locked valleys of the Appalachian mountains. Here they preserved much of the speech and many of the songs of old England. Often, they added a touch of their own that seems to make these songs ring with the haunting echoes of the mountains. Listen to this stirring ballad,
(Soloist sings "I Wonder As I Wander.")
NARRATOR: Next the choir will sing for us a few of the beloved American carols. You may feel free to join in and sing along with them, or to sit and listen.
(Any number of familiar carols may be inserted here, such as "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and "O Come, All Ye Faithful." After the last carol, as the organist plays softly, all the children enter and join hands in a circle.)
NARRATOR: As these children have joined hands, so our customs have joined together the people of many lands and languages, and the warmth of Christmas has melted the barrier between us, that there may indeed be peace on earth, good will among men. And the farther we spread the good tidings of Christmas, the more men will crave peace and understanding. Then the possibility of a world of safety and happiness will become a reality. "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might be saved." Join with us, as we stand and sing together, "Joy to the World."
On one side of the platform are a rocking chair, a low stool, and an end table with a lamp. On the opposite side is a manger with hay and a doll. Children play the parts of Joseph, Mary, shepherds, and the Wise-men.
As the play opens, the choir has already assembled and the lights are all turned out.
When the lights come on, Mother is seated, rocking and sewing.
CHOIR: Chorus of "Tell Me
the Story of Jesus"
(As the chorus ends, girl enters, dressed in long nightgown and nightcap.)
GIRL: Mother, I'm ready for bed now. Would you please tell me a story?
MOTHER: All right, you sit here beside me, and I'll tell you one of the most wonderful stories ever written. It was many, many years ago in a land far away that God told a Jewish girl named Mary that she had been chosen to be the mother of His Son. Mary and Joseph, her husband, lived in Nazareth, but the king of the land said that all the people must go to their hometown to sign their names and be taxed. Since they belonged to the house of David, and Bethlehem was the city of David, they had to go to Bethlehem.
Mary rode a little donkey, and Joseph walked by her side. It was a long journey. There were hills to climb and rough roads to walk over. It was very late when at last they saw the lights of Bethlehem twinkling before them.
CHOIR: Sing "O Little Town
(Mary and Joseph enter and walk down the aisle. Mary sits and Joseph stands beside her.)
MOTHER: The city was crowded; the streets were full of others who had come to obey the king. Joseph found the inn and knocked on the door. "No room," said the innkeeper. "No room, I'm sorry." He looked at Mary, and she looked so tired. "I have a nice clean stable with fresh hay. You could stay there if you like." Mary smiled her thanks and Joseph led her to the stable. It was cozy and warm, and they were very grateful for the shelter.
It was very quiet in Bethlehem. Everyone was sleeping. It was at this time that God chose to keep His promise to Mary and cause her to give birth to His son. It was quiet - a silent night.
CHOIR: Sing "Silent Night."
(At the close of the song, shepherds enter right.)
MOTHER: Out in the hills, the shepherds were watching over their sheep. It was still on the hillside, too. The soft baaing of the lambs was all that could be heard. Suddenly a great light shone from the sky and an angel appeared. (Angel enters right.) The shepherds were frightened, but the angel said, "I've come to bring you good news. Tonight in the city of David the Savior, Christ the Lord, is born. You'll find Him wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." Then other angels appeared, and they said, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace toward men of good will."
CHOIR: Sing "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks."
MOTHER: After the angels left, the shepherds went at once to the stable, where they knelt and worshiped the baby. They left very quietly, for their hearts were full of joy and wonder. They were amazed that God had allowed them to be among the first to welcome His Son to earth.
CHOIR: Another verse of "While
Shepherds Watched Their Flocks"
(as shepherds exit down the middle aisle.)
MOTHER: In a land far away from Bethlehem, there were Wise-men who studied the stars. One night they saw a bright and glorious star. They knew it was to announce the birth of a very special king. They loaded their camels with beautiful gifts and started out to find the king. They went through small villages, large cities, and barren deserts, always following the glorious star. At last they came to Jerusalem. They went to King Herod and asked where the baby, King of the Jews, was to be born. The teachers in the palace told them that God's Word said the baby would be born in Bethlehem. "Come back and tell me where the baby is so that I can worship him too," the king said.
The Wise-men hurried to Bethlehem, and there the star stopped over the house where Mary, Joseph, and the baby were. They knelt and gave the baby Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
CHOIR: Sing the last verse
of "The First Noel."
(Wise-men enter and kneel, offering gifts.)
MOTHER: God sent an angel to the Wise-men and warned them that the king wished to harm the baby, not to worship Him. So they must not go back to the palace in Jerusalem. The Wise-men, like the shepherds, were filled with joy and wonder as they left the baby and went home another way.
CHOIR: Sing the last verse of "We Three Kings."
Girl: (stands) Mother, did the king hurt the baby?
MOTHER: Oh no (takes
child in arms). An angel came to Joseph, too, and told
him that the king was afraid Jesus would grow up and take his throne from
him, and they must leave Bethlehem quickly and stay away until God told
them it was safe for them again. Mary and Joseph took the baby to
Egypt and stayed till the wicked king died.
(Child goes to sleep.)
CHOIR: Sing last verse of
(Mary and Joseph exit center aisle as choir sings.)
MOTHER: Mary and Joseph never forgot the things that happened in Bethlehem. They remembered the shepherds visit and the Wise-men with their glorious gifts. Our Bible tells us Mary kept all these things and cherished them in her heart.
"Sleep, My Child"; then exits, carrying child.)
This simple program is easily produced. A narrator tells the story of the origin of each carol, and it is then sung either by the congregation, by a soloist, or by a group. The program is best received if the songs are sung by a variety of singers.
O Come All Ye Faithful
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Hark, the Herald Angels Sing
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night
The First Noel
I Wonder as I Wander
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
Angels From the Realms of Glory
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
What Child Is This?
Away in a Manger
Joy to the World
We Three Kings of Orient Are