SONG:  “O Come, All Ye Faithful” (Two verses sung by ______________________ – left side)

(___________________– left side)
“O Come, All Ye Faithful”, these words have echoed through the ages, calling us to worship our God and our King.  As we celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus we see the “faithful” gathered around a lowly manger.  We read of faithful men and women in the Holy Scriptures and know that above all, God is faithful to keep His Word.  And, tonight we want to look at some of the faithful men and women who, often through adversity, wrote the Christmas carols we enjoy year after year. 

(____________________ – right side in costume of year 1760)
“ O Come, All Ye Faithful”.  What a beautiful old song.  Published in 1760 as “Adestes Fideles” in Latin, by John Francis Wade, this song may have been sung as early as the 13th century.  Since the shepherds first heard the tidings of the dear Savior’s birth and proclaimed, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem…” we extend this invitation to you, “O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”   Worship with us as we exalt our loving Savior through the scriptures and songs that we have come to know and love.

(____________________ – left side)
The first song of Christmas can perhaps be found in our Holy scriptures as Mary, the mother of our precious Savior visited with her cousin Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist.  (Mary goes on stage)  We find those words of praise in Luke 1:46-55.

(Mary -____________________ – center stage)
“…My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;
As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.”

(Mary exits stage to left and back.  Joseph (____________________) goes on stage from right and kneels with face in hands, looks up when angel calls his name.)

(____________________ – right side)
Matthew also opens his book with the Christmas story… 
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”  (Matthew 1:18-23)

(Joseph exits stage right and goes to back.)

(____________________ – left side)
“Emmanuel”, God with us.  This was proclaimed by the prophet Isaiah some 700 years before, as the nation of Israel looked for the coming of the Lord. 
“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”  (Isaiah 7:14)

Possibly as early as the 12th century someone in the medieval Roman Catholic Church penned down these words pleading with God to return and redeem captive Israel.  The song was translated into English by John Mason Neale in the early 1800’s.

SONG:  “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” (sung by a men’s group walking up center aisle with organ playing… ____________________ and ______________________ go to right, ___________________ and ________________________ go to left)

(____________________ – right side)
The prophet Micah foretold that the Lord would be born in the little town of Bethlehem.
“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”  (Micah 5:2)

(Mary and Joseph walk slowly up the center aisle and take their place at the manger scene during next scriptures.)

We see this come to pass in Luke chapter 2.
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.”  (Luke 2:1-5)

(____________________ – left side)
In 1868 Phillips Brooks wrote a Christmas carol for the children in the Church of the Holy Trinity in Philadelphia.  He gave it to the organist of the church, Lewis H. Redner, to compose a tune so the children could sing it for the Christmas Sunday School service.  He had taken a trip to Bethlehem three years earlier and the memories must have been very dear to him.  He had written a letter to his church while still abroad in February 1866.  “I remember especially on Christmas Eve, when I was standing in the old church at Bethlehem, close to the spot where Jesus was born, when the whole church was ringing hour after hour with the splendid hymns of praise to God, how again and again it seemed as if I could hear voices that I knew well, telling each other of the “Wonderful Night” of the Saviour’s birth…”  Listen now to the familiar words of this beautiful Christmas carol that was written for the children, in Philadelphia, in 1868.

(Children stand together in center front and sing, then go back to seats.)

SONG:  “O Little Town Of Bethlehem” (sung by the children)

(Angel  _______________________, left side)
“And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”  (Luke 2:6-7)

(____________________ – right side dressed in black dress)
Fanny Crosby became blind after the wrong medication was used on her eyes shortly after her birth in 1820.  Through the darkness, she saw God’s light and wrote 8,000 songs and hymns, often under different names so that all the songs in the hymn book would not be accredited to her.  We sing many of her songs today. “Near The Cross”, “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior”, “Blessed Assurance”, “Showers Of Blessings”, “To God Be The Glory”, “Close To Thee”, “Rescue The Perishing”, “All The Way My Savior Leads Me”, “God Will Take Care Of You”, and “My Savior First Of All” are just a few that express the deep love she had for her Savior.  She wrote this Christmas hymn in 1883.

SONG:  “In A Lowly Manger Sleeping” (played and sung by _______________________)

(Shepherds and angels left side of stage -- remain standing for parts and song.)

(____________________ – in angel costume on left side of stage)
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them,
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”  (Luke 2:8-14)

(____________________ – right side)
The words and music of our next song span one hundred years.  Charles Wesley, leader of the Methodist movement, wrote the song in 1739 and although the words sing with triumphant praise, he had specifically stated that he wanted slow solemn music.  The song we sing today rings with the joyful cantata of the famous composer Felix Mendelssohn, written in 1840.  He declared his music only to be used for secular use.  In 1855 Dr. William Cummings joined the words and music into the song we sing today, although both men would have objected if they had been living.  Can you imagine what they would have said if they had known the song would be sung on a Christmas cartoon in 1965 by Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, and a dog named Snoopy?

(Children sing then shepherds read their parts, and angels and shepherds take their place at manger scene and remain throughout end of play.)

SONG:  “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” (sung by the children)

(Shepherd _____________________ – left side on stage)
“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

(Shepherd _____________________ – left side on stage)
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.  And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.”  (Luke 2:15-18)

(Shepherds and angels may sit at manger scene and remain through end of play.)

(____________________ – right side bearded man dressed in black)
“I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day” was written by one of America’s best known poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  The Civil War began in 1861 and tragedy also struck his home in July of that year when his wife was melting sealing wax with a candle and caught her dress on fire.  Longfellow tried to smother the flames with a small rug in the room, but Fanny Longfellow died the next morning, leaving him behind with five children.  Due to his burns, he was unable to attend her funeral and was still grief stricken at Christmas when he wrote, “How inexpressibly sad are all holidays.”  A year after her death he wrote, “I can make no record of these days.  Better leave them wrapped in silence.  Perhaps someday God will give me peace.”  His journal entry for December 25th of 1862 reads, “A merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.”  His son Charles was severely wounded in the Civil War almost a year later and his journal was indeed wrapped in silence.  On Christmas Day, in 1864, still months away from the end of the Civil War, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned these words to “Christmas Bells”.  Listen as he proclaims, “God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!  The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

SONG:  “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day” (all 7 verses sung by ____________________)

(British Soldier of WWI ___________________________ – left side beige uniform)
Silent Night was written by Joseph Mohr in Oberndorf, Austria in 1816.  Two years later, on Christmas Eve 1818, he gave the poem to his church organist and asked him to write music for the guitar, possibly because the organ was broken.  The music was written quickly and the song was sung on Christmas Day.  Two singing families traveled to that little church and carried the song with them across the land.  During the next hundred years the song traveled around the world. 

(German Soldier of WWI _________________________ – right side gray uniform)
World War I started in the summer of 1914 and by Christmas almost a million lives had been lost.  As the German and British soldiers lay some 60 yards apart on either side of “No man’s land” in deep trenches of icy, murky mud, an amazing thing happened.  Late Christmas Eve a baritone voice came booming from the German side, “Stille Nacht”.  The British could not understand the words, but knew the music well and responded with their words of “Silent Night”.  The opposing troops alternated singing Christmas carols and the Germans lit candles on small Christmas trees.  On Christmas Day the soldiers crossed the barbed wire and called a truce.  They exchanged small gifts and buttons, and joined services to bury the dead.  This one time in history, never again repeated, the guns were silenced and enemies called a truce as they celebrated Christmas, in the first World War, December 25th, 1914.

SONG:  “Stille Nacht” (sung by ___________________ in German (by German Soldier) and “Silent Night” sung by ____________________(British Soldier) , alternating verses)

(____________________ – right side in costume of year 1865)
What Child is this whose birth was foretold and so anticipated?  What Child is this whose promise of a second coming brings hope to a Christian people?  What Child is this that left His mark on the little town of Bethlehem and still bears the marks of the cross throughout eternity?  What Child is this that can heal the broken in spirit and give sight to blinded eyes?  What Child is this whose birth was heralded by angels and yet gives the peace of a Silent Night?  “This, this is Christ, the King, Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.  Haste, haste to bring Him laud, The Babe, the Son of Mary.”  These words were penned by William Chatterton Dix in 1865 after a sudden near-fatal illness confined him to bed rest for several months.  Through his illness and deep depression he wrote many hymns, including this beautiful song set to the familiar tune Greensleeves, which had been written centuries before. 

SONG:  “What Child Is This?” (played and sung by ______________________)

(Closing remarks by the Pastor.)

Sources:  (Some Internet sources are listed below, but many additional sources were used to verify information and get costume ideas for time periods used.)

The Holy Bible (King James Version)

"O Come, All Ye Faithful" 

This is a Christmas play about the faithful few around the manger on that first Christmas and the faithful men and women who wrote many of our favorite Christmas carols.  We used costumes for the parts of the nativity and also period costumes for the song presentations.  Some of the people in our play performed more than one part.  I have left places to insert names if you would like to print and perform this play.  It was greatly enjoyed by those who were in the play, as well as those in the audience.  We used the scenery and nativity costumes from last year.  My Mom sews and she made the period costumes for the song stories.  Those reading the scriptures wore nice dress clothes.  This play was written to use the youth and adults.  Play opens with the song, "O Come, All Ye Faithful."

Please see O Come All Ye Faithful Photo Page for pictures of costumes and scenery.