Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Family Friendly Christmas Eve Service of Lessons and Carols

Below is the script for a family friendly Christmas Eve service that was both beautifully stately and a more than a little bit noisy due to all the very young children in the congregation.  It was celebrated for several years at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia.  All the children’s choirs sang at Trinity, but choirs would not be necessary.  The lessons were read by four robed (think cassock albs) readers who wore different head gear and carried different props as they took different parts.  The readers were chosen to represent all ages from people who were known to read well and enjoy being “on stage.”
An older man to read the part of Joseph and be a wiseman
A young adult man to read the part of John the Baptist and be a shepherd and a wiseman
An older teen or young adult woman to read the parts of Mary and the angel and to read the wisemen’s story.
A ten to twelve year old girl to read the part of a shepherd and be a wiseman.

It requires one well prepared director who knows all the movements and can move around to cue the readers and be sure their head gear and props are in the right places at the right time.  One rehearsal was all that was needed to prepare the readers. 

This service originally took place in a large sanctuary with both a lectern and pulpit at the front, central and side aisles, doors on either side near the front of the sanctuary and at the rear and a balcony.  It could easily be adapted to suit any other sanctuary.

Family Christmas Eve Service


CHOIR PROCESSIONAL    “Once in David’s Royal City”

FIRST LESSON:  John’s Prologue (read from lectern by the minister)

            In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.  What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 
            Thanks be to God!


CONGREGATIONAL CAROL     “O Come All Ye Faithful”

SECOND LESSON: John the Baptist

Young adult male wearing a brown burlap poncho speaking from the pulpit
I am ‘the voice of one shouting in the desert:
Get the road ready for the Lord; 
            make a straight path for him to travel! 
Every valley must be filled up,
            every hill and mountain leveled off. 
The winding roads must be made straight,
            and the rough paths made smooth.
All mankind will see Gods salvation!”
“I baptize you with water, but someone is coming who is much greater than I am.  I am not good enough even to  untie his sandals.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.“

Thanks be to God!

CONGREGATIONAL CAROL     “Joy to the World!”  (vs 1-2)

THIRD LESSON:  Jesus is born

Older man wearing a head scarf reading from the pulpit
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.  This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.  All went to their own towns to be registered.  Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 

Young adult woman wearing a head scarf and reading from the lectern
He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.  And she face birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Both together say this then walk down the center aisle and out the back
Thanks be to God!

Primary Choir 

FOURTH LESSON:  The Shepherds

Girl and older man both wearing shepherd’s scarves.  Man holds a shepherd’s staff. They appear in one side of the balcony.  The girl reads from a letter size piece of brownish paper.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

Young adult woman wearing gold sash and halo reads from script printed on big scroll on the other side of the balcony
Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around then, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign for you; you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and 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 heaven, and on earth peace among those who he favors!’

Girl shepherd
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.”  So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.

Shepherds and angel together say
Thanks be to God!

Primary and Junior Choir


Young Adult woman reading from the pulpit.  Other three wear crowns and carry their gifts regally up the center aisle at appropriate times during the reading. They stand together facing the front of the church.  As the final verse is read they lift their gifts as if offering them, then leave by a side door.
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?  For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”  When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.  They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea: for so it has been written by the prophet:  Then Herod secretly called for the wisemen and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared.  Then, he sent them to Bethlehem saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”  When they had heard the king, they set out and there ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at it’s rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.  On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage.  Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Thanks be to God!

Junior Choir

CONGREGATIONAL CAROL “The First Nowell” vss 1,2,3
The “kings” leave their crowns and gifts and quietly return to the chancel during this carol. The older man and young girl sit near the lectern.  The young adult man joins the young adult woman near the pulpit.



Primary and Junior Choirs

SIXTH LESSON: And then…..

Girl reads from the lectern then walks out the center aisle.
When the shepherds saw him, they told them what the angel had said about the child.  All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said.  Then, the shepherds went back to their fields, singing praises to God for all they had heard and seen.

Young adult man reads from the pulpit then walks out the center aisle.
The wisemen returned to their country by another road, since God had warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod.

The older man reads from the lectern then walks out the center aisle.
An angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Herod will be looking for the child in order to kill him.  So get up, take the child and his  mother and escape to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you to leave."  So, Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and left during the night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod died.

Young adult woman reads from the pulpit then walks out the center aisle. 
Thanks be to God!

CONGREGATIONAL CAROL     “Silent Night” vss 1,2,4




  1. I am surprised at there being NO comments to this post. The liturgy outline is just what I am looking for to use this Christmas in our local church. Thank you

    1. Yours may be the first comment on this post, but it is the second most visited one on this blog. The most visited one is the one about why it is important for children to be in church on Christmas Eve. Peace.

  2. What a find! Thank you for posting this. I serve a very small congregation, and so many nativity plays and presentations require far more people than we have available, but this is just perfect.


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