Here is the play that The Special Gathering of Indian River will be using this year.  It may be a good steal for you.  The music is taken from other stuff and doesn’t seem to be a good fit for learning.  However, you can plug in Christmas Carols.

Arise, Shine

by Linda Howard

copyright 2009

Choir is in place.  The choir sings, “Arise, Shine.” (Shepherds will cross the front area or move across the stage.  Some shepherds come in pairs.  Some of the shepherds should walk alone.)

Shepherds leave.

Reader 1:       For many centuries, the Jews had waited for the Messiah to be born.  Even Isaiah spoke about the Messiah.  He prophesied to Judea, “Arise, shine for your light has come.”  God had a plan to send His Son to earth in the fullness of time; but only God knew when that would be.  Few people understood that the Messiah would come as a baby, born in a small village town, a few miles from Jerusalem.   Even more, God intended that a virgin girl would give birth to this wonderful child.

Reader 2:  God sent the angel Gabriel to a virgin girl who lived in Nazareth, a town in Galilee. 

Mary comes out and kneels in prayer against the bench.  She should be facing the audience.)

Choir sings, “On Bended Knee”

Angel will come on stage.  He will be facing the audience but he will be facing Mary’s back.  She will not be able to see him.

Angel will touch Mary’s shoulder and help her stand.  They will stand together.  As the choir sings verse 2 two times.

The Angel leaves.

Reader 3:  The girl was engaged to marry a man named Joseph.  Her name was Mary.  

Mary sits on the bench.  Joseph comes out and Mary goes to him and gestures to explain about the angel.   As they talk to each other, they move around the stage.


Reader 1:       Mary was engaged to marry Joseph.  But before they married, Mary learned that she was pregnant with a child by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Mary’s husband, Joseph was a good man.  He did not want to bring shame to Mary before the people.  So he planned to divorce her secretly.   

Sadly, Mary leaves the stage.  Joseph paces around but finally puts a blanket on the floor and goes to sleep.  An angel comes on stage, Angel motions as though talking to Joseph.  Joseph acts surprised.

Reader 3:       But an angel came to Joseph in a dream.  The angel said, “Don’t be afraid to take Mary to be your wife.” 

Choir sings,  “Fear Not.”

When choir finishes, the Angel leaves.  Joseph walks to the back of the stage to get Mary.  They walk to center stage.  Joseph puts his arm around Mary and points to heaven.  They hug.  Then they walk off the stage.  The curtain closes.  Mary and Joseph walk on to the floor to the center of the room.  Back stage crew should set up table and three chairs.

Reader 2:    At that time Augustus Caesar sent out an order to all people.  The order said that all people must write their name in a book.  All people traveled to their own towns to be registered.  So Joseph went to Bethlehem in Judea.  Joseph went with Mary.  While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have the baby.  She gave birth to her first son, Jesus.

On the floor, Mary and Joseph come out carrying a cloth bag.  They walk across the front.  OR THE WALK IN FROM OF THE CURTAINS ONSTAGE.   They stand together as the choir sings:  “More of You.” 

Mary and Joseph walk toward back stage.  They disappear behind the stage area.

Curtain opens.  Three shepherds are on stage sitting at a table with three glasses.   An  inn keeper comes on stage.  The innkeeper has an apron on and she is carrying a pitcher and pretends to refill the glasses.  As she refills the glasses, they begin to talk.

Shepherd 1:       It’s going to be another long night out in the fields watching our sheep. 

Inn keeper:        Watching sheep would be better than staying here with all these people coming in to town to register to pay their taxes. 

Shepherd 2:       What was Caesar thinking?  All these people commanded to come to our small town of Bethlehem. 

Innkeeper:         It’s the best year at the inn that I’ve ever had.  I’m completely full.  No one else can get into this inn or any other inn in town. 

Shepherd 3:       Yeah and I’ve been selling my sheep to the visitors.  Business is booming.

Shepherd 1:       Well, I don’t like having all these strangers here in Bethlehem.  Anything could happen.

Shepherd 2:       Oh, sure, the heavens could open up and angels could give us a message from God.

Shepherd 1:       Don’t be dumb.  That’s not what I’m talking about.  I mean thieves and robbers.  I don’t like strangers. 

Shepherd 3:       Come on, Caleb.  Enjoy the extra money all these visitors have brought to us.  Don’t be so gloomy. 

Shepherd 1:       (turning to innkeeper) Sarah, if you are full, what will you do if there were an emergency?  What if someone comes in and is about to have a baby?

Innkeeper:         Like that is going to happen.  Hey, if it does, I’ll send them to the stables.  After all, it’s warm and clean.  They would even have some privacy.


Shepherd 2:       Well, we have to leave.  Don’t want to miss the angels. 

 (Everyone laughs.)

Innkeeper:         You shepherd have been in the fields too many nights.  You are acting crazier every day.

Shepherds leave.  Mary and Joseph come on stage into the inn.  The innkeeper points them to off stage.  The curtains close.  Choir sings “Salvation Lies in a Manger.”


During song, as soon as possible, then manger is set up.  Mary and Joseph return to the stage.  As soon as the manger is set up and Mary and Joseph are settled, open the curtain.  Mary should be holding the baby but, after the curtains open, she puts the baby in the manger.

Salvation Now Lies in a Manger

Salvation now lies in a manger,

Surrounded by straw and beasts of the field

And He shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor,

Almighty God, Eternal Father, the Prince of Peace.

He’s the Messiah.  He’ll reign forever.

He’s the Messiah.  He’ll reign forever.

He’s the Messiah.  He’ll reign forever.  Amen

As the choir sings, shepherds should move to the front area off stage.  When shepherds are in place, the reader begins.

Reader 3:       Some shepherds were in the fields watching their sheep.

Reader 4:       An angel of the Lord stood before the shepherds and said,

Reader 5:       “Don’t be afraid.”

Choir sings “Glory” (Song 6)  


Song 6

 Al le lu ia, Glory to God.

Glory to God and Peace on Earth. (2xs)

Go to Bethlehem and find the babe

Yes, let us rejoice with gladness

For our God now dwells on earth.


During the song, all the angels appear.  They should point the shepherds to the manger.  Shepherds go to the edge of the stage.  The three speaking shepherds SHOULD NOT go on stage and the choir sings, “No Higher Calling.”

No Higher calling

Song 7

Down at your feet, O Lord, is the most high place,

In your presence Lord, we see your face. 

We see your face. (2xs)

There is no higher calling, no greater honor than to bow and

          kneel before you, Lord.

I’m amazed by your presence, embraced at your meekness,

O Lord, I live to worship you.

 Some of the angels and shepherds  will go on stage.  The shepherds on stage kneel before the baby.  (IMPORTANT NOTE:  Be sure to choose shepherds who can kneel to go on the stage!)

Reader 3:       Wise men came from the East to worship the new born king.

As the music begins for “We Journey Afar.” The wise men begin to move from the back.  They come on stage and kneel before the baby.

We Journey Afar

Song 8

We journey a-far to find a new babe.

The King of the Earth has been born

His star has appeared in the vast western sky

The King of the Earth has been born.

We will find him, find him

Our journey won‘t be in vain.

We will find him, find him,

The king of the earth has been born

From the shepherds on the floor come the three talking shepherd and the innkeeper.  They walk to the center in front of the stage

Innkeeper:      You will never believe what happened to me tonight.  A young woman came into the inn and she was about to have a baby.  I had to rent out the stable to them. 

Shepherds (together):  Oh, we believe you. 

Innkeeper:      Hey, why are you back here?  Aren’t you supposed to be in the fields with the sheep?

Shepherd 1:    Hey, you will NEVER believe what just happened to us.  Remember, the prophet Isaiah said, “Arise, Shine.  For your light is come. The Lord’s glory will shine on you.”  WE can hardly believe what just happened to us.

Choir sings, “Arise, Shine.”  Choir moves from their places and shakes the hands of the people.