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Ready-to-use Music: Christmas Carols (Album)
For this session, you can use any Christmas album which includes traditional carols, rather than just Christmas songs.
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This session explores some of the traditions that have grown up around the Nativity narrative and how they compare to the original biblical text.
You will need a selection of nativity costumes and props which can be used for the drama activity.
Divide your young people into smaller teams and ask them to sit together in a circle, away from the other teams. Explain that you are going to play a game and they need to think of as many Christmas carols and songs as they can. One team after another, the young people have to sing a few lines of a Christmas carol or song, ensuring that they do not sing one which has already been sung by another team. The winning team is ‘the one that still has carols to sing when the other teams have exhausted their bank of songs.
Tell your young people that you are going to look more closely at some Christmas carols and the way some of them represent the Nativity story. Select a few Christmas carols to play to the group, providing copies of the lyrics for the young people to follow and to refer back to later. Appropriate carols include ‘Away in a manger’, ‘In the bleak midwinter’, ‘The first noel’, and ‘We three kings’.
After you have listened to each of the carols, divide your young people into smaller groups, giving each group the lyrics to one of the carols. Ask them to use the song words as though it were the only source they had to tell them about the Christmas story. Set each group the task of working together to create a freeze frame or short sketch of the Nativity story, as per the lyrics of their given carol.
After the groups have all shared their presentations, remind your young people that many of the ideas we have about the Nativity story have grown up from traditions, rather than from the original biblical text. While there are some details that we may like to know which aren’t provided in any of the Gospel accounts, we should always begin with what we are told, in order to better understand this central story of our faith.
Provide Bibles and invite your young people to look more closely at some of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth. Provide highlighter pens for them to use to highlight any details in the carols which can now be understood to be true, as well as black pens to use both to cross out anything which is untrue and to write any additional details they have gathered from their reading.
As you bring the session to a close, remind your young people that there is nothing wrong with singing these carols as part of our Christmas celebrations, but we do need to remember that beyond the traditional Christmas card images, is a love story which began in a smelly stable!