The Christmas Program

December 22, 2005 | 23 comments
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My ward is doing a musical Sacrament meeting this year. What is your ward doing?

We’re going to have half a dozen choir numbers — Gifts That are Mine to Give; Still, Still, Still; Star Bright; Dearest Children, Come to Jesus; One Small Babe. Plus some primary songs — The Nativity Song and Stars Were Gleaming. And the congregation is going to sing Silent Night.

I’m going to be instrument-hopping the entire hour. I’m the choir accompanist, and I’m playing mostly on piano. (I may be accompanying the primary too — I’m not sure). There will be breaks from piano. For one, the choir decided to go with an acoustic guitar accompaniment for Star Bright (the bishopric approved it, too!). My other breaks from piano come in the middle of the meeting (and at the beginning and end) — I’m going to be on the organ, filling in for our regular organist who is out of town.

I’m not at all used to playing a real pipe organ. I spent some time going over the stops before playing last week, but when I played on Sunday it didn’t sound at all like it had earlier — you could barely hear a thing. Turns out that I had forgotten to open up the swell pedal. Oops. Well, at least I got that out of the way before Christmas day.

23 Responses to The Christmas Program

  1. slam smith on December 22, 2005 at 8:29 pm

    I have no clue. I’m not speaking or anything else, and that’s good enough for me.

  2. LisaB on December 22, 2005 at 9:00 pm

    We’re doing guitar, too. Ours with fiddle. :-) But we are going the easier to obtain forgiveness than approval route.

  3. Heather P. on December 22, 2005 at 10:05 pm

    Our Christmas program was last week. (I’ve noticed that singles wards usually have it early.) But – get this – the choir director quit the week before. Seriously lost it and threw his music at the choir at the beginning of choir practice and said, “Well, then, you do it.” Everyone was kind of stunned. I know that he had a program planned out with hymns and scriptures, but we just had to wing it the day the program was supposed to happen. The choir didn’t sing at all. We weren’t ready and had really needed that practice the week before plus one that was planned for the morning of. When no one showed up except me and two other people. I had been practicing the accompaniment for a song, “Breath of Heaven,” that was supposed to be for a soloist with the choir singing in the background at the end. She ended up singing it as a solo. And then one other person and I sang a duet of “Away in a Manger” from the hymnbook after running through it once before sacrament meeting. I still can’t believe I volunteered to do that because I’m not much of a singer. (That’s not false modesty, it’s just a realistic statement.) After the two numbers, the first counselor chose some Christmas hymns for congregational singing and then a high council member spoke. It turned out nice. On the fly, but nice.

  4. Kevin Barney on December 22, 2005 at 10:22 pm

    A number of years ago the bishop asked me to plan the Christmas program. I did it as all music and scripture readings interwoven–no talks.

    I was the narrator for the scripture readings, and on something of a lark I decided to memorize them all. I counted, and there were a total of 114 verses (the readings averaged maybe 8-10 verses per). My experience in public speaking is that maintaining eye contact is so crucial that I thought it would greatly improve the quality of the readings if I could just speak them rather than read them from a printed text.

    It took me two and a half months to memorize all those scriptures (mostly by reciting them to myself in the car going to and from the train station every day), but I eventually got them all word perfect. (Luckily I love Xmas and so it was a joy to do.)

    If I do say so myself, it was a great program.

    It’s too late now, but if anyone is in charge of their program, don’t have the choir do all the singing. People in the congregation want a chance to sing, too.

  5. Clark on December 23, 2005 at 12:29 am

    Our ward is having a service: sacrament only. Unfortunately it is at 9:00. Ugh. I’m expecting turnout to be low. I’d love a church service every Christmas. But not at 9:00 in the morning.

  6. Bro. Brandon B. on December 23, 2005 at 6:01 am

    Alright, a great oppurtunity for me to brag about my wonderful ward! First, our X-mas meeting will be combined with the other ward that shares our building (good move if low attendance) and instead at us meeting at 9 AM and them meeting at 1PM we’ll come together at 11:30 for a one hour long presentation. I believe that it will be mostly a singing / musical presentation but they don’t tell us too much in the clerk’s office…. but I also have to brag about about the ward party, everyone came dressed in attire appopriate for a live nativity and were given their “tax refund” at the entrance (a small bag of gold and silver fake coins to buy your food). We then entered the gymnasium and found vendor stands had been built all along the walls with different food (think the market in Aladdin) like chicken / couscous / etc… no utensils and seating was on your blanket on the floor. Complete with manger scene and everything it was a fantastic time! Okay… did I mention I love my ward?

  7. Lamonte on December 23, 2005 at 7:51 am

    We’ll be having a program of music and speaking and we will only have Sacrament Meeting. Our rotational schedule causes us to meet at 2:00 p.m. – the same time we usually start our meetings every other Sunday. I can’t for next year when we start meetings at 9:00. We have an untapped plethora of musical talent in our ward. A couple of weeks ago we had our ward Christmas Party and just a week or two before that event the ward music leader asked if anyone who had ANY talent on a musical instrument would volunteer to join the “Ward Orchestra.” I was so pleasantly surprised at the turnout and the quality of the music that was performed at the party. Someone in our stake quoted someone in church government as saying that in our meetings there should be good music and more of it and good speaking and less of it. Sounds like a good idea for any meeting but especially at Christmas.

    Merry Christmas everyone.

  8. annegb on December 23, 2005 at 10:16 am

    We are also having a Christmas program. We’re decorating the foyer. And eat your heart out,
    Clark, it’s at 5 pm.

  9. D. Fletcher on December 23, 2005 at 11:14 am

    I played the organ/piano in 3 wards last Sunday — all had Christmas programs.

  10. Julie M. Smith on December 23, 2005 at 12:46 pm

    Clark, this is the first week all year that I’m glad we have sacrament meeting at 1pm–I have to admit that if it were at 9am, I don’t think I’d have the heart to drag the kids from their toys. But 1pm is just about perfect.

  11. danithew on December 23, 2005 at 1:36 pm

    I was sitting in one of the wards where D. Fletcher played organ last Sunday (comment #9). The music was really of high quality — so much so that after the first few chords played I had to look up to see who was playing. I was happy to realize D. Fletcher was up there. He is really fantastic is all I have to say.

  12. meems on December 23, 2005 at 3:38 pm

    Our branch is having 3 branches meet together for one meeting. It’s at 10:00, but I don’t know what’s on the program. I do know that it’s a TWO hour sacrament meeting. On Christmas morning. With little kids. What are they thinking? My kids can barely sit through one hour on a normal Sunday! Oh yeah, I just remembered; these are the same people who are bringing us our branch Christmas party on CHRISTMAS EVE. At 4 pm. In a park. OK, thank you. I got that out of my system. Back to your normal scheduling.

  13. D. Fletcher on December 23, 2005 at 7:32 pm

    Dan, aren’t you sweet?! I’m just doing what I’m on the earth to do, but when somebody notices, it means a lot.

  14. Lawrence on December 23, 2005 at 10:43 pm

    Our ward will have a 1 hour program. the ward choir will sing 2 numbers, then a soprano soloist, a carol sing by the congregation (led by me), some brief remarks by our great bishop and a closing number by the choir. Our congregation enjoys the carol sing. I select 4 carols that depict some semblance of chronology–sometimes more, but the choir and soloist will limit me to 4. I refuse to be the one who causes the program to exceed 1 hour.

  15. WillF on December 23, 2005 at 10:56 pm

    The two wards that meet in our building are merging this Sunday into one sacrament meeting, not so much to improve solidarity (though hopefully it might erase some of our interward building-use angst, a good topic possibility by the way), but rather because we anticipate that more people will have chosen to leave our town than to gather here.

    The program: As far as music goes, I know that a musical family is doing two pieces, then the joint choir is doing What Child is This (Sally Deford) and Away in a Manger (Wilberg arrangement) with flute (with me waving my arms), but at a faster tempo than the Motab choir lest we pass out for want of breath. Then the musical family is doing a couple more pieces.

  16. WillF on December 23, 2005 at 11:07 pm

    Brother Brandon B. (#6), either you are in the “Other Ward” (that meets at 9 while we meet at 1, just like your wards) and have a few facts out of whack, or we live in a parallel universe. Our ward is meeting at 11:00 AM (not 11:30 AM), and we had a ward activity almost exactly like you described, except the most daring they got with the food was lentil soup and bread with hummis. Maybe the “give people tokens for food in Bethlehem” is a new cultural tradition?

  17. Jim F. on December 24, 2005 at 12:14 am

    WillF: There are more parallels in the universe than you could dream of. I think this particular ward activity is relatively common. I’ve seen it done in more than one ward, and our ward did it last year. Not only did we get the tokens to spend in Bethlehem, we got scrolls with our names written in Hebrew. And our food was not nearly as daring as either Brother Brandon B’s or yours.

  18. Bro. Brandon B on December 24, 2005 at 1:43 am

    WillF: I very well could be wrong on the time: my wife is always there to correct me. If we are sharing a building then we would be in Southeast Pennsylvania. Otherwise, I’ve always had my suspicions that I am living in a parellel universe… oh well the sky is always green and the grass is always blue! Merry Christmas!

  19. WillF on December 24, 2005 at 2:10 pm

    Brandon B.: I’m in southern Indiana so you probably would be early if you arrived at 11:00, but then maybe your ward choir would be rehearsing a half hour early (like ours) so you would be able to attend the rehearsal. Merry Christmas.

  20. WillF on December 24, 2005 at 2:36 pm

    Heather P.: I’m dying to find out why the ward chorister quit (and how this can be done).

  21. Ana on December 24, 2005 at 4:37 pm

    We had our choir program last week. Tomorrow will be solos and small groups. I don’t know what all the others are, but I’m doing “Gesu Bambino.” Today as I practice I realize that while my kids are used to the high notes, every other child in the building will be covering his or her ears. What was I thinking?

  22. annegb on December 26, 2005 at 11:17 am

    Okay, 5 pm was too late. Everybody sat there half asleep and it was just not a good time, although the program was nice. Not great, but okay.

    I think 1 or 2 would have been better.

    I think it would have been cooler to have a wonderful stake Christmas Eve program and dispense with church altogether on Sunday.

  23. Brenda C on December 26, 2005 at 3:31 pm

    We had a nice Christmas program with the choir doing some numbers, a soloist, and the congregation singing many of the numbers with special accompaniment provided by organ and piano. It made the hymns sound more special with just a little different backup. But the spirit was ruined midway through the program as a parent let his child roam the halls alone, and he pulled a fire alarm! We all had to evacuate, endure through lights blinking and occasional alarms blaring as the bishopric tried to hurry and fix the problem. It took about 20-30 minutes, so needless to say, our hour long sacrament meeting turned into an hour and a half. But it will be one Christmas everyone in our ward will remember! I just felt bad for the choir director who had planned a special meeting for us all to get in the true spirit of Christmas!