A Christmas Sacrament Meeting
This past Christmas, I was responsible for the Sacrament Meeting Christmas program at my local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ward. For most of the musical numbers, I asked the performer, choir director, or organization president to choose a song they wanted to teach or perform, so that they would be performing a song they knew well or really wanted to learn or teach. Then I plugged in the numbers they chose into where they fit into the scripture story, and filled in the remaining music slots with congregational hymns. I love singing at Christmas, so I incorporated lots of congregational singing time.
I am sharing my narration here, and including videos of the songs we used so you can listen as you read and enjoy this Christmas message. (The videos are not the artists who performed at my local ward, and not necessarily the same arrangements.)
Opening Hymn: Hymn 203: Angels We Have Heard on High
Sacrament Hymn: Hymn 196: Jesus, Once of Humble Birth (Of all the Sacrament songs, I think this one is the most Christmasy.)
Administration of the Sacrament
Special Musical Number Christmas Bells (Primary Songbook pg. 54)
Sung by Young Women and Leaders, with violin, cello, bass and piano played by young women instrumentalists. (In my stake, Young Women are responsible for providing Sacrament Meeting music and talks at a nursing home each week, so I put them first in the program so they could leave and perform the same number again at the care center during the same meeting hour.)
Ancient prophets foretold:
…the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.
And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.
And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.
And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary. (Mosiah 3:5-8)
Congregational Hymn: Hymn 207, Third Verse: It came upon the midnight clear
…The angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth …And the angel came in unto [Mary], and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. (Luke 1:26-31)
Before departing, the angel told Mary:
For with God, nothing shall be impossible. (Luke 1:37)
Congregational Hymn: Hymn 208, Third Verse: O Little Town of Bethlehem
As Mary awaited the Christ child’s birth, she testified of Him:
My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.
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 showed 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 [helped] his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever. (Luke 1:46-55)
Congregational Hymn: Hymn 201, First Verse: Joy to the World
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (Luke 2:1)
Mary and her new husband Joseph traveled to Bethlehem to be identified and counted for the census.
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)
Special Musical Number: The Friendly Beasts
Sung by Primary Children
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 Savior, 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)
The shepherds hurried to the stable where they found Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.
And when they had seen [Jesus], 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 2:18)
Special Musical Number: O Holy Night
Sung by soloist
The Spirit guided a just and devout man named Simeon to the temple on the same day Mary and Joseph brought the baby there. Simeon had long known by revelation that he would see his Savior before his death. When Simeon saw the baby Jesus, he cradled him in his arms
…and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. (Luke 2:28-32)
And there was one Anna, a prophetess…[who] served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant, gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. (Luke 2:36-38)
Congregational Hymn: Hymn 205, Third Verse: Once in Royal David’s City
When wise men from the east saw a new star over Bethlehem, they knew the prophecy had been fulfilled:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
And, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:9-11)
Congregational Hymn: Hymn 210, First Verse: With Wondering Awe
Wise men and women still seek after Jesus. If we prepare ourselves, like Anna and Simeon did, we too will know our Savior. With the angels, we rejoice in the peace and good will the gospel brings. Like the shepherds, we can tell everyone the good news of the gospel. Sometimes, the greatest miracles begin in humble circumstances, like a lowly stable. Like Mary, we know that with God, nothing is impossible.
Ward Choir: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
As the ancient prophets foretold, Jesus has come to us. Now we must come unto Him.
Jesus has promised:
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. (Luke 11:9)
When prompted by the conductor, please join the choir in singing the third verse of Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful.
Closing Hymn: Ward Choir, Joined by Congregation in Third Verse: Hymn 202: Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful