This year, like last year, I'm in charge of writing and finding the music for the Christmas program. This year we are doing a theme of light - star that appeared, Christ being the light of the world, the light in us we can share with other, etc.
In case you were wondering there are fewer than 100 days until Christmas. To provide a little motivation, I decided to steer away from the Christmas carols and decided instead I'd just post the program I wrote last year as a reminder to get my butt in gear - if you are in charge of this like me, or think you might be in charge of it sometime in the future, feel free to steal/borrow any or all of this.
Most of the songs are from Sally Deford. If you want to hear them, click here.
Opening Hymn – Joy to the World - Deford
Ward Business and Sacrament
Speaker 1: It is once again that time of year when we gather together to celebrate the joyful time that was the birth of Jesus Christ. In this season of giving, we commemorate the greatest gift that our loving Father in Heaven could have ever bestowed upon us, His only begotten son. In a humble stable, a room put to use beyond the function of a primitive cave, our Savior and Redeemer entered this world in the most humble circumstances. Centuries prior to the birth of Jesus, prophets and civilizations looked forward to the arrival of the one who would be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. This event was so magnificent that along with the appearance of a new bright star, the heavens opened and choirs of angels assembled. In an unprecedented gathering, they sang “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
Angels We Have Heard on High -Deford– Choir (2:40)
Speaker 2: In Ancient Bethlehem, few were aware that the most anticipated event of the world had taken place, except for a few fortunate shepherds in a nearby field who had the opportunity to be witnesses of the arrival of the greatest individual the world would ever know. The shepherds left their precious flocks and rushed to see that which the heavens proclaimed. We cannot know what they thought they might find, only recalling what they may have known from whatever scriptures they knew. What they discovered was a scene so magnificent and so sublime that they couldn’t help but tell everyone they knew, making this amazing news known abroad, and all those who heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
Away in a Manger-Deford – Choir and Young Women
(young women sing 1st verse and then the obligato part for instrument with the same words as the choir) (3:20)
Speaker 3: Mary brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger. Often nativities are represented in this way, with the baby Jesus in a manger, and parents Mary and Joseph looking over him adoringly. Imagine the scene that is all too familiar with the variation of Mary, alone with her baby after the shepherds have looked on in amazement and the angel’s songs are over. She had the opportunity to hold him lovingly in her arms, adore his tiny features and think about the incredible love she had for her helpless infant who even as a full grown man would remain eternally innocent. For even just a few precious moments, Mary had the Savior of the world, her own personal Redeemer, all to herself. “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”
Mary’s Lullaby (women’s trio)
– Relief Society Sisters (4:30)
Speaker 4: In the 11th chapter of Matthew, verses 28–30, the Savior says: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [Matt. 11:28–30] President Ezra Taft Benson taught us that, “Christ’s great gift to us was His life and sacrifice. Should that not then be our small gift to Him—our lives and sacrifices, not only now but in the future? …Yes, men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life.”
I Come to Him- Deford – Choir (5:30)
Speaker 5: It is impossible to take account of all the miracles that Jesus has performed since the beginning of time. He created the world, gave life to mankind, taught, encouraged, corrected and loved. During his physical life on this earth, he fed thousands, healed the blind, deaf and lame, cast out spirits, taught forgiveness and the principle of unconditional love. His performance of miracles continues still today. He lifts the spirits of all of us when we long for compassion during our darkest hours. He offer guidance when our souls are worrying and troubled. During the times when our souls hunger, we can utilize the lifeline of prayer and feel the comfort of knowing that God and his Son Jesus Christ hear us individually, love us individually, and will guide us to the path that will allow us to heal and learn, renewing our covenants with him and teaching us how to develop a greater love and peace for ourselves and all mankind.
Jesus, Savior (Ave Verum) – Duet (3:40)
Speaker 6: Jesus Christ courageously fulfilled this sacrifice in ancient Jerusalem. There in the quiet isolation of the Garden of Gethsemane, He knelt among the gnarled olive trees, and in some incredible way that none of us can fully comprehend, the Savior took upon Himself the sins of the world. Even though His life was pure and free of sin, He paid the ultimate penalty for sin—yours, mine, and everyone who has ever lived. His mental, emotional, and spiritual anguish were so great they caused Him to bleed from every pore (see Luke 22:44; D&C 19:18). And yet Jesus suffered willingly so that we might all have the opportunity to be washed clean—through having faith in Him, repenting of our sins, being baptized by proper priesthood authority, receiving the purifying gift of the Holy Ghost by confirmation, and accepting all other essential ordinances. Without the Atonement of the Lord, none of these blessings would be available to us, and we could not become worthy and prepared to return to dwell in the presence of God. (Ballard, 2004)
He submitted Himself, and they took Him and in mockery crowned Him with a crown of platted thorns and placed a purple robe on His back. Without mercy, and with hatred vile and intemperate, they beat Him and scourged Him and cried out for His crucifixion. He had done no evil. He had done only good, and in greater measure than any man before Him had ever done. Yet they cried for His death.
He staggered under the weight of the cross on which He was to hang. They nailed His quivering flesh to the unyielding wood. They mocked Him as He hung in agony.
While suffering, He forgave them. He cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46.) And then He died for each of us. In dying, He brought about the redemption of mankind. None can fully comprehend the extent and wonder and majesty of that sacrifice in our behalf. Suffice it to say, He became our Redeemer. (Hinckley, 1992)
I Stand All Amazed- Deford – Choir (6:00)
Speaker 7: Of all the victories in human history, none is so great, none so universal in its effect, none so everlasting in its consequences as the victory of the crucified Lord, who came forth in the Resurrection that first Easter morning. (Hinckley, 1992) God, our loving Father in Heaven, has said that it is His work and glory “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). It is called the gospel of Jesus Christ because it is the Atonement of Jesus Christ that makes redemption and salvation possible. Through the Atonement all men, women, and children are unconditionally redeemed from physical death, and all will be redeemed from their own sins on the condition of accepting and obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ (Elder Uchtdorf, 2007) Because Jesus Christ lives, we can live our lives with hope and gratitude. Because he lives, we can walk through the valley of the shadow of death and truly feel no fear. Because he lives, we can rise from our challenges, join together and rejoice in the knowledge that because he lives, we too, along with all our loved ones, can live again.
Because He Lives- Deford – Choir (7:00)
Closing Song – Choir and Congregation – Hark the Herald Angels Sing