Hark And Hearken

  • Cast Number: 11
  • Run-time: 50 minutes
  • Bible Reference: Luke 2

Hark! And Hearken! is an easily staged Christmas program with music. This performance combines the church Christmas program and a small Sunday School offering as well. For ease in rehearsals and flow, a series of monologues are used in the drama, this combined with the hosts on-going narration which provides the thread to tie the performance together. The drama calls for 11 but the Sunday School portion could accomodate any number.

Music: The on-going song used is based roughly on “Beautiful Scandalous Night” by Steve Hindalong and Derald Daughtery.

Cast: In addition to any number of people for the “Hark! The Herald Angel Sings” and “The Old Christmas Pageant”, 6 persons for monologues, plus host are needed, as well as 4 narrators.

Sample of script:

Opening

Host comes on stage. (hand held mike)

Mmmmm, nice evening, lovely evening. Everything decorated for Christmas. Exciting time of year, don’t you think? Excitement in the air, that’s what!
Christmas tree. Nice one, that. Decorations and all. Yep, very nice.

Sings:

Come on down to that beautiful green Christmas tree
Where the twinkling lights and the candles you see,
There to wish Christmas wishes forever to be,
At that beautiful green Christmas tree.
At that beautiful green Christmas tree.

Oh my yes. Lovely tree. Lovely. Puts me in mind of angels, carol singing. One of my favorites is Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.

hum a few bars, sing a word here and there

Oh, my, yes. Lovely carol, lovely carol!

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Narrated retelling of the message behind the writing, and the reason, of one of history’s most famous and beloved carols.

Uses two narrators (who may be on stage or unseen), and any number of singers. No special sets, lighting, sound, costuming or props required.

This scene is a form of suspended human video with any number of actors from a wide cross-section of the general church population miming and moving to the words of the carol. Some guidelines for miming are provided in this script however to a very large degree the actors will simply be making logical responses to the very worshipful words in the carol. Joseph, Mary and any number of angels, shepherds and wise men come in from the rear of the sanctuary, ending up on stage to form a nativity scene on stage. Remember to do some basic characterization for all actors, as well as basic choreography.

N1: Charles Wesley was a famous preacher and songwriter who was born almost 300 years ago. During his life he wrote over 6,500 hymns, many of which are still favorites today.

N2: Of that great number, Wesley’s best-known song is probably "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing." It has been changed slightly by editors over the years, but most of it remains just as Wesley intended when he wrote it originally.

N1: But while the words we sing are mostly the original, the tune is not. More than 100 years after Wesley penned the words, composer Felix Mendelssohn wrote a cantata to celebrate the invention of the printing press. The second chorus of that cantata became the music we now know as “Hark The Herald Angels Sing”.

N2: Wesley the poet. Mendelssohn the composer. Wesley insisted that whatever the music used for his poem, it must be slow solemn music.

N1: Yes, and Mendelssohn made it very clear that his music was for secular use only.

N2: But in 1855, long after both Wesley and Mendelssohn were dead, Dr. William Cummings put Wesley’s words and Mendelssohn’s music together.

N1: Amazing, isn’t it, how man’s plans and God’s will so often move in different directions. Yet men open to being used by God can find themselves such an awesome tool in sculpting God’s great design.

N2: Let’s sing together as we re-visit this old, old song which in so many ways is so new, so relevant 300 years after it’s writing.

lights up on nativity scene, angels come around manger, followed by shepherds and wise men.

N1: The song begins with a triumphant proclamation of Jesus' birth, and describes the fact that He is both God and man.

N2: Of great importance though, it then praises Him for the salvation He was born to provide.

all sing first two lines as angels hold out hands, sing:

Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King; Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled."

N1: To talk about peace on earth is popular at Christmas time, as it should be. Jesus did come to bring peace. Primarily, however, He came to bring us peace with God, which is what Wesley meant when he wrote, "God and sinners reconciled."

N2: We all have sinned against God; we all have broken His commandments. And sin makes man into God’s enemy, for a Holy God can not tolerate sin. When people become enemies, they can’t go back to being friends until their differences are resolved. Sometimes resolution involves the payment for wrongdoing, and this is essentially what Jesus did when He died on the cross.

N1: Jesus paid the price necessary to reconcile us to God. We must remember that the price was really ours to pay, not God's, but Jesus was able to pay it because, though He was God, He became also a man, being born as a baby on that first Christmas day.

N2: Charles Wesley described Jesus' birth in the second verse of this song. He wrote,:

all sing next four lines, shepherds and wise men come bow before the baby:

Christ by highest heaven adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come,
offspring of the Virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail the incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.

N1: Jesus was the everlasting Lord, the second person of the Trinity, Wesley described Him in the song as "the Godhead". As such Jesus was and is fully equal in nature with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.

N2: Yet the Holy Jesus became the "offspring of the Virgin's womb." He was "veiled in flesh," the "incarnate Deity." He was God, having become also a man.

N1: The name Emmanuel means "God with us," yet, as Wesley wrote, Jesus was "pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel." Jesus became a man, but in the process did not lose His deity. He was, and still is "God with us."

N2: The very idea Jesus would lay aside His divine privileges for any reason is nothing short of incredible, but we need to realize that His only reason for doing so was in order to provide us with salvation.
Amazing! Giving reason for Wesley to write:

sing as all actors show signs of sincere worship:

Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die, Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.

N1: Amazing indeed! Jesus, laying aside His own rights, coming to earth and dying for our sins, for no other reason than to allow those who trust in Him to have eternal life.

N2: He was born that we might be born again, and that is good reason to sing "glory to the newborn King."

sing, all actors bow to the manger, freeze:

Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King”.

All actors freeze in place while Sunday school children come on stage, beginning with the oldest. The children will all have parts to play, (let DramaShare know if there are more or less roles needed and we can easily adapt).

As children are coming forward, Narrator 3 will be talking:

N3: For many years there’s been Sunday school Christmas Concerts.
Excited children, nervous teachers, proud parents and grandparents. Christmas carols, bathrobes that don’t quite fit, angel wings that fall off, lines that are forgotten. Children get nervous, and some don’t get nervous enough.
So why do we have Sunday School Christmas concerts? Well, it’s a time for you to see who we are, for us to get experience with nerves, like right now, maybe. It’s a time to bring our church family together. So, are we here to entertain you, to show off in front of you? No, though you will have to admit, we are VERY, VERY cute. The Christmas concert is our time of telling you the story of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Tonight you will be hearing a lot about the birth of Jesus Christ, and how His birth long ago made such a difference in this world. We want you to sit back now, and listen closely as our younger Sunday School students tell the story to you.
Before we start, we want to show you how you can be a part of the good news of Jesus’ birth. Our teachers and those on stage will lead you in this exercise, don’t worry, even adults can do this one. When we are all finished we want you to praise Jesus as well, and here’s how we do it:

Hold you hands straight out In front of you, just like they are showing you on stage. Move your hands apart.
Now move them quickly together.
And again.
And again.
Faster.
Much faster.
See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?
Remember, as we walk off stage, it’s your turn, please remember the exercise you are expected to do.
Isn’t that nice, now you can be a part of the Sunday School concert too!
Oh, and by the way, just in case you forget your part, I’ll be up front to help you.
And now, here is a story we love to tell!

Sunday School segment – A Story I Love To Tell

K through 5 come on stage from rear of sanctuary, dressed as shepherds, angels, wise men, teachers come on with them. Come to front to speak in mike.

Note: lines will be projected on back wall as children deliver their lines to ensure that audience “hears” the story being told.

C1: Good evening
C2: We have a story to tell you.
C3: This story is old.
C4: But always new.
C5: It’s the story of Christmas.
C7: A story of love.
C8: How Jesus came down.
C9: From His throne high above.
C10: Jesus was born in Bethlehem town.
C1: With shepherds and wise men.
C2: And angels around.
C3: The reason for Christmas
C4: Is clear for to see
C5: For Jesus came down
C6: For you and for me.
C7: We hope that your Christmas
C8: Is happy and bright.
C9: Showing the warmth
C10: Of heaven’s great light.

these children now become part of the nativity scene

Pre-K kids come on stage dressed as shepherds, angels, wise men as they wish. Have teachers and parents as required assist.

When Pre-K’s are all on stage, all group sings “Happy Birthday” to Jesus.

All groups file off stage, younger children will stay in their classrooms until the finale, older children and adults may remove their costumes and quietly come back in sanctuary until their cue prior to getting costumes on and coming back in for finale.

Host: Oh, my yes. Christmas songs, Christmas carols. Christmas celebrations.

sing:

Come on down to that beautiful green Christmas tree
Where the twinkling lights and the candles you see,
There to wish Christmas wishes forever to be,
At that beautiful green Christmas tree.
At that beautiful green Christmas tree.
When we go to the foot of that green Christmas tree
There to lay all our presents for family to see,
There to show of our love and our sweet empathy,
See the angel on top of the tree.
See the angel on top of the tree.

Angels. Ever think what a big part angels played in the Christmas story?

The Angel and His Missions

No props or sets necessary. Angel’s lines may be spoken as a monologue, or a narrator may be used. This piece may also be used as a mime, with Mary, Joseph and Zechariah represented by an actor.

Angel’s voice may optionally be pre-taped.

Angel: My name is Gabriel. Many times it has been my duty, my pleasure, to visit men at the request of my Master. Once I visited a priest, Zechariah, who was serving temple duty. Zechariah, and his wife Elizabeth had been childless and were now old. Poor Zechariah, he was so taken back to see me, there in the temple, truly he was without words. And, then, when he doubted my words, truly, he did become speechless.
Six months later I returned at the request of my Master, this time to visit a young woman, a girl, really, in the quiet hillside town of Nazareth. The girl, when I saw her, was striking, truly I felt a sense of awe in her presence. No, she was not anything more than human, but there was a certain feeling, what can I say, a feeling of purity about her. There was no pretense about her, no shadow lingering on her brow, or in her heart.
And I said:
Don't be afraid, Mary. I bring God’s greetings. God is with you. Mary, I promise you, you have nothing to fear. You have found favor with God, He is delighted in you. He has a duty for you to perform which will, for all time, set you apart. You will become pregnant and in due time will give birth to a son, call him Jesus. He is well suited for greatness, for He is God, the long-awaited Messiah. He will be called the son of the highest. The Lord God has given to Him the throne of His father David; He will rule over Jacob’s' house forever. Yes, Mary, forever! There shall be no end; ever, to His kingdom.
Although Mary was understandably overwhelmed, her response told a lot about her. “How will I, a virgin, be pregnant?” I explained that the One to be born was God’s own Son, and Mary accepted with a maturity well beyond her years, saying, “I am God’s humble servant, it is my pleasure to serve Him as He sees fit”.
Soon after I was sent back to Nazareth, to visit with Joseph, Mary’s fiancé. Poor Joseph, his whole world had crumbled around him! The whole town was talking about the disgrace which Mary had brought to herself, to the town, and especially to Joseph, her betrothed. Joseph had made up his mind to quietly divorce Mary, in order to keep her from public disgrace.
I came to Joseph in his dream, and I said, “Joseph, there is no reason for you not to take Mary as your wife. You see, Joseph, Mary’s baby is God’s own Son. When the child is born, call Him Jesus, for He shall have the power of salvation for His people.
“Joseph, remember the scripture, where it says, ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" -- which means, "God with us’”.
In spite of his fears, and his concern for Mary, Joseph took Mary home as his wife.
My next visit was to a valley below the sleepy little town of Bethlehem, to meet with shepherds. These, the least among men, were the first to hear of the wondrous news of the birth of the Savior of all mankind. You can imagine the terror in their hearts when throngs of angels appeared, and the night was filled with song and light and glory!
Quickly I assured them that they had no reason for fear, that the news which I brought was good and welcome news, the news of the coming of the long-awaited Messiah. And I invited the shepherds to go to the stable in Bethlehem, where, in a manger, they would find the Prince of Peace.
Oh, the sound of the joyous singing which filled the air! And all of this seemed to bring courage to the shepherds who all left their sheep behind, running to Bethlehem to find Joseph, Mary and the Christ Child.You should have seen this band of unlikely messengers, as they ran about the town and countryside, telling all who would listen, of the miracle of the Savior’s birth.
Three visits, to three very different people, all about the birth of a Baby. I was blessed to have the privilege of these visits. And I was moved by the unique responses from each of those with whom I met. All were good and Godly men and women. All were carefully, and specifically, chosen by God to play a most crucial role in the process of bringing salvation to mankind. All had something to fear, and to treasure, from my news. Yet each, in spite of their similarities of purpose, reacted in very different ways.
Zechariah was met at the temple, at the pinnacle of his power and prestige. Zechariah had to fear loss of prestige. And Zechariah reacted in doubt and disbelief.
Joseph was brought low by the scandal which cut to the heart of his relationship with Mary, and with his community. Joseph, a young man, had his whole life ahead of him, it was important what the community would think. Yet, his major concern seemed to be not for himself, but for Mary. And when I gave the information to Joseph in his dream, his was an immediate response of quiet acceptance and fulfillment.
And Mary. Mary reacted in still another manner. In spite of her situation where her life would never again be the same, Mary asked a question born not of doubt or disbelief, but of incredulity: “How will I, a virgin, be pregnant?” And her response to my pronouncement of things to come? Mary reacted in pleasure and in joy.
The reactions to the coming of the Messiah:
- doubt and disbelief
- quiet acceptance and fulfillment
- pleasure and joy
In the years since, I have witnessed untold numbers of human reactions to the coming of the Messiah into the lives of men and women. Some like Zechariah doubt and question the news. Others, like Joseph, quietly accept and respond. But few, like Mary, receive the full blessing which comes from taking great joy and pleasure out of welcoming the King of Kings into their lives, their hearts, and their minds.
Unto us a child has been given; God has given us His own Son. This little baby will be responsible for leading, and defending, His people. His name is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. He has been, and continues to be, wounded for the wrongs of all mankind, brought down for the evil we do. The punishment we so richly deserve will be given to Him. His wounds are all we have to heal us.Yes, this is he. Immanuel. God with us. This is God's gift to us. A Savior, one who shall save his people from their sins. My mind takes me back to a stable in Bethlehem where I knelt before my God. My heart full, my mind unable to grasp the full significance of the moment.
I watched Mary as she cradled her child and I stared at her and the babe. Do you know who you are holding, Mary? This child, now only moments old, lived long before the beginning of time. He who has for untold ages walked the unlimited galaxies of all creation, now has tiny human legs too weak to support his own small body. He whose hands formed the limitless creations in them, now owns only the pudgy fist of a newborn, unable even to feed itself. Mary, could you understand that the Maker of all creation lies asleep in your arms. Hallelujah! The King, the Messiah is born!

the end

Host: My, my, my, my, my! Angels! Oh my yes. Oh, and what a busy time the Christmas season! Preparing the house, preparing hearts, preparing for holiday visitors.

sings:

As we come gather ‘round the green Christmas tree
Set our hearts and our hands and our intellects free,
As we ready our hearts for our visitors we
Allow that Jesus the visitor be.
Allow dear Jesus the visitor be.
There is room in our homes for a green Christmas tree
There is room in our lives for the fun and the glee,
But there doesn’t seem time for a Saviour to be,
In the planning of Christmas for me.
There’s no room for the Saviour you see.

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