St. James Music Press

enter keyword

Richard Shephard The Birds of Bethlehem

Categories
Children's Music, Musicals / Opera
Instrument(s)
Keyboard [organ/piano], Cello, Clarinet, Flute(s), French Horn, Trombone, Violin(s)
Voicing
Children's Choir, Solo(s)
Original Publication
Sewanee Composer's Project MMVI - Vol. 13
Difficulty
Moderately Easy
Suggested Uses(s)
Description

for Unison Children's Choir and Tenor, SATB Soloists (the birds), optional dancers, and piano
With optional obbligato instruments - use some or all (violin, flute, cello, clarinet, horn, trombones)

Brother Francis (t), a monk, is working at the abbey at Christmastide. The children come in and beg a story of the Christ child ’s birth. After the children reject several of the well known stories they have heard before, Brother Francis tells them the story of the Birds of Bethlehem:  When the baby Jesus was born, the birds came from every shore to offer their gifts to the child. The nightingale, the bluebird, the cuckoo, the owl, and the stork offer their gifts. Then the Evil One, in the form of a raven, comes and foretells the Passion and death of Jesus. But the dove appears lastly and bestows the message of hope and salvation.

Full of familiar carols, this INTERGENERATIONAL musical lasts 24 minutes. Your choir and congregation will love it!

Children:
Ding dong! merrily on high, in heav'n the bells are ringing
Ding dong! verily the sky is riv'n with angels singing
Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis.

E'en so, here below, below, let steeple bells be swungen, And i-o, i-o, i-o, by priest and people sungen,
Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis.

Pray you dutifully prime your matin chime, ye ringers; May you beautifully rime, your evetime song, ye singers.
Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis.

Brother Francis, we come now to see you this day
Our parents have bid us your footsteps adorn
We'd like to come sit in the straw and the hay
And have you to tell us of Bethlehem morn.
A story, a story of Jesus's birth,
Tell of the angels and peace to the earth.
Tell of the shepherds and tell of the kings
Tell of the gold and the gifts that they bring
Tell of the animals, tell of the star,
Tell us a story of Bethlehem far.

Bro. Francis: Ah children, I'm so happy to see you, but I can't stop to tell you a story just now.

Children:
O Brother, now we wish you good cheer
And welcome in the festive year.
We gather all and bid you come down
To tell us a story of Bethle'm town.
Tell us of Jesus who came to earth,
And tell us of his holy birth.

Bro. Francis:
O children all, please let me be,
For I am busy as you can see.
The mangers are empty, the donkey is loose,
The chickens are hungry, as is the goose,
Oxen and horses have gone astray
I've no time on this blustery day.

Children:
But Brother, we have come to town
Our parents traveled from miles around
To gather at the market place
And trade with folk of ev'ry race
So we have come to the abbey this morn
Just to hear how the Savior was born.

Bro. Francis:  Ah well, I suppose I have no choice in the matter.  A story then.

Would you like to hear the one about the kings?
Three kings had traveled from afar
Following the guiding star...

Children:
NO, NO, we've heard that one, we know that one.
Tell us a new one, tell us another,
Tell us a tale of Christmas, brother.

Bro. Francis:
Would you like to hear the one about the beasts?
The friendly beasts have gathered there
Around the manger, cold and bare...

Children:
NO, NO, we've heard that one, we know that one.
Tell us a new one, tell us another,
Tell us a tale of Christmas, brother.

Bro. Francis:
Would you like to hear the one about the angels?
The angels singing in the sky
Glory be to God on high...

Children:
NO, NO, we've heard that one, we know that one.
A new story is the one we need
The one we'd like to hear, indeed
A story that we haven't heard

Bro. Francis:
Then I will tell you of the birds.

Children:
Yes, tell the story of the birds
And we will listen to ev'ry word.

Bro. Francis:
The birds that came from ev'ry shore
To add their gifts to the baby's store.

Children and Bro. Francis:
Gifts of great glory and of great worth,
Gifts to honor the baby's birth.

Bro. Francis:
A long time ago, on the plains of Judah, in the town of Bethlehem, in a lowly stable, a new babe was born who was to be the Savior of the World.

His mother wrapped him in a soft cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them at the inn. The holy babe's only attendants in those early hours were the animals for the shepherds had not yet heard the message of the angels, and the kings had not yet arrived with their costly gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Yet while the animals were still in wonder that the holy child should be born among them, the birds arrived, bringing the gifts that only they could bestow.

Full many a bird did wake and fly
Curoo, curoo, curoo
Full many a bird did wake and fly
To the manger bed with a wandring cry
On Christmas night, on Christmas Night,
Curoo, curoo, curoo

The nightingale and bluebird came
Curoo, curoo, curoo!
The cuckoo, stork, and raven came
And they did sing in Jesus' name

The owl was there with eyes so wide
Curoo, curoo, curoo!
The owl was there, the dove beside
And they did sit at Mary's side
On Christmas night, on Christmas Night,
Curoo, curoo, curoo

The nightingale:
The nightingale from across the sea,
From Persia, and the ancient land.
Her song is fairest melody,
She sings for Kings at their command.
Now to come and offer free
The gift of music, sent to thee.

Children:
The gifts of music and of song
The gifts to all of us belong,
The birds to Bethl'hem flew aright
And gave their gifts that holy night,
To Jesus.

The bluebird:
Consider now the lilies fair
They do not toil nor do they spin
The bluebird flitting through the air
No melancholy cares begin
Now to come and offer free
The gift of happiness, to thee.

Children:
The gifts of happiness and song
The gifts to all of us belong,
The birds to Bethlehem flew aright
And gave their gifts that holy night,
To Jesus.

The cuckoo:
From out of a wood did a cuckoo fly,
Cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo
From out a wood did a cuckoo fly
And to the manger with joyful cry
On Christmas night, on Christmas night,
Cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo.

He hopped, he curtsied, round he flew,
Cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo
And his laughter filled the stable through
As loud his jubilation grew,
For his gift you see That he sent to thee was
Cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo

Children:
The gifts of laughter and of song
The gifts to all of us belong,
The birds to Bethlehem flew aright
And gave their gifts that holy night,
To Jesus.

The owl:
The owl, the hunter, questions all;
Who is this child? Who is this king?
Who shall the hearts of men enthrall?
To whom shall we bring offering?
Who shall need comfort? Who can say?
Who will protect him every day?
And who will come and offer free
The gift of wisdom? I, for thee.

Children:
The gifts of wisdom and of song
The gifts to all of us belong,
The birds to Bethlehem flew aright
And gave their gifts that holy night,
To Jesus.

The stork:
The Stork, she rose on Christmas Eve
And asked at house and hall
"Now where is He of David's line?"
"He lies in an ox's stall.."
"Alas," mourned she, "how poor His bed
Who rules the universe o'erhead!"

Then from her snowy breast she plucked
Her feathers warm, to offer thee
She strewed them in the manger bed
The gift of home and family.

Children:
The gifts of family and song
The gifts to all of us belong,
The birds to Bethlehem flew aright
And gave their gifts that holy night,
To Jesus.

Bro. Francis:
But after the birds had brought their gifts
To the baby, meek and mild,
The evil one was wicked swift
And hastened to the little child.

In the form of a raven, he took his flight
And settled on the stable there
And as he came, night turned to night,
And darkness followed everywhere.

The Raven:
A gift from all is freely given
Unto this babe, so wondrously,
And worthy of the Prince of Heaven
Yet this is the gift I give to thee;

This babe will be adored by all
The blessed one, by prophets heard
Yet when redeeming Adam's fall
His grave will be the final word.

My gift is death upon the tree,
His nail-torn hands, His pierced side;
His crown of thorns will ever be
The mark of mankind's foolish pride.

I bring you death.

Bro. Francis:
Gloomy night embraced the place,
wherein the holy infant lay
The babe looked up and showed his face,
in spite of darkness, it was day.

Summer in winter, day in night,
eternity shut in a span
They saw him and they blessed the sight,
Heaven in earth and God in man.

And as they watched, full filled with fear
A tiny turtledove drew near.

The Dove:
This baby's death has been foretold
Scourged and whipped and sent to harm
Yet through his stripes we shall be whole
And find salvation in his arms.

He shall not sleep, but live again
And rising from the grave shall be
The Word made Flesh, both God and man.
Our hope and our eternity.
This is the gift, by God defined,
The gift of life for all mankind.

Children:
The gifts of Christmas and of song
The gifts to all of us belong,
The birds to Bethlehem flew aright
And gave their gifts that holy night
To Jesus.

Bro. Francis:
And now remember from this day
The gifts the birds brought to the child.
And count them blessings for yourselves;
For God and man are reconciled.

Now be gone, my young friends. Let me get on with my work!

Children:
Ding dong! merrily on high, in heav'n the bells are ringing
Ding dong! verily the sky is riv'n with angels singing
Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis.

Contact

Mark Schweizer
P.O. Box 249
Tryon, North Carolina 28782
Phone 828.859.0323
Toll Free 877.822.0304

Updates

Enter your email address to receive emails about special offers and free music

Website crafted by OrangeCoat