Past Church lesson manuals and magazines occasionally offered short dramatizations of scriptural stories for use in classrooms, family programs, or ward activities – at least, they did this in the days when people expected to participate actively in both learning and entertainment.
These plays were simple, called for the most rudimentary of costumes and props, and usually needed little memorization – a straightforward plot with some improvised dialogue and the reading of scripture carried the story along. Children who had heard the scripture story a time or two could put on the play with no more than a single rehearsal.
Would your children, perhaps with a Primary class or some cousins visiting Grandma on Christmas Eve, enjoy putting on this simple play from 1961?
The Bright New Star
A Playlet by Minnie Selkirk
Cast: Father; Mother; 3 or 4 children; Reader – young girl; Reader – man.
To give correct atmosphere, reading should be done from scroll. It is not necessary to have an elaborate setting. Simple costumes can be made from bathrobes, towels, striped material, etc. It would be impressive if a lighted star were to appear at the window at the appropriate time. A handy priesthood holder could probably arrange this.
Setting: A Nephite homestead at the time of Christ’s birth.
Scene I: Mother and children are looking expectantly upward through a window. As they turn away, the children all talk at once.
CHILDREN: Mother, tell us about Jesus. Has He been born yet? Where will He be born? How will we know?
MOTHER: Now, then, children, one at a time. Come and sit by me, and I will tell you. He has not been born yet, but the time is close at hand. Samuel the Lamanite, that great prophet, made it known unto us.
YOUNGER CHILDREN: Oh! What did he say?
MOTHER: He told us to watch for a new star in the sky. When that appeared, it would be a sign that the time had come for the Saviour of the world to be born. He told us that many wonderful things would happen at the birth of Jesus.
OLDEST CHILD: My friend said that it would not get dark at nighttime.
MOTHER: Yes, that is right. That is one of the signs to look for. We will see the sun go down, but it will stay bright, like daytime.
Children go to window, and look out. They turn back, very disappointed.
CHILDREN: The star has not come yet. Oh! It’s getting dark. I wish the star would come.
MOTHER: We must just be patient and have faith. We will watch and pray; and when we see the star appear, we shall know that the prophecy has come true. Come children, time for bed.
Mother leads children off and returns alone. She picks up a piece of cloth and commences to sew. Presently a commotion is heard without; abusive shouts, etc. Mother drops her sewing and jumps to her feet. Father enters. He is very agitated and upset. He sits down, tries to be calm. Mother shows concern.
MOTHER: What is wrong, father? Tell me, quickly!
FATHER: All is lost; we are doomed.
MOTHER: Father, what do you mean? It cannot be!
FATHER: ‘Tis true! ‘Tis true. Should the star not appear by the evening of the morrow, all who have believed the prophecy given by Samuel the Lamanite are to die. So it has been decreed.
MOTHER: ‘Tis a cruel order. And the children? Must they die, too?
FATHER: Yes, all who believe are to die. We are mocked and scorned. They say the time has passed and that the sign will not now be given. there is no hope; our faith has been in vain.
MOTHER: Father, you must not talk so. you know, many great things we have seen already. The sign must surely come soon!
FATHER: You are right, my dear. We must remain steadfast. Let us go and seek Nephi, the prophet. He must know of this thing.
They go out.
READER (young girl): Now it came to pass that when Nephi, the son of nephi, saw this wickedness of his people, his heart was exceedingly sorrowful. And it came to pass that he went out and bowed himself down upon the earth, and cried mightily to his God in behalf of his people, yea, those who were about to be destroyed because of their faith in the tradition of their fathers. And it came to pass that he cried mightily unto the Lord, all the day; and behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying:
READER (man’s voice, person unseen): Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfill all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets. Behold, I come unto my own, to fulfill all things which I have made known unto the children of men from the foundation of the world, and to do the will, both of the Father and of the Son – of the Father because of me, and of the Son because of my flesh. And behold, the time is at hand, and this night shall the sign be given.
At the end of this scene, the carol, “Star Bright,” is sung, after which Scene Two is opened. Father and mother are trying to appear cheerful, Children are playing. It is the following evening.
FATHER: Come, and we will read the prophecy of Samuel the Lamanite.
Family gathers around, and father reads from a scroll:
And now it came to pass that Samuel, the Lamanite, did prophesy a great many more things which cannot be written. And behold, he said unto them: Behold, I give unto you a sign; for five years more cometh, and behold, then cometh the Son of God to redeem all those who shall believe on his name. And behold, this will I give unto you for a sign at the time of his coming; for behold, there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day. Therefore, there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign; for ye shall know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting; therefore they shall know of a surety that there shall be two days and a night; nevertheless the night shall not be darkened; and it shall be the night before he is born.
And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you. And behold this is not all, there shall be many signs and wonders in heaven … And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall believe on the Son of God, the same shall have everlasting life.
After reading this passage of scripture, father looks earnestly at his family, and says:
Let us not lose faith. We do know that these things are true and must surely come to pass. If the time is not yet, let us then have courage.
MOTHER: Yes, Father, we will trust in the Lord, and we will have courage.
ONE OF THE CHILDREN: Maybe the star will shine tonight.
All the children go to the window and gaze out. Expressions of wonder appear on their faces. Then they show great excitement. parents are in humble attitude of prayer.
CHILDREN (excitedly): The star! The star! It is here! Father, Mother, come quickly! Look, it is still daytime and the sun is nearly set. See how bright the star shines. Oh! isn’t it beautiful?
MOTHER: Verily it is so. The time of His coming is at hand.
FATHER: Praise be to God. Let us give thanks for this great wonder.
They all bow low on the ground.
READER: And it came to pass that the words which came unto Nephi were fulfilled, according as they had been spoken; for behold, at the going down of the sun there was no darkness; and the people began to be astonished because there was no darkness when the night came. And there were many, who had not believed the words of the prophets, who fell to the earth and became as if they were dead, for they knew that the great plan of destruction which they had laid for those who believed in the words of the prophets had been frustrated; for the signal which had been given was already at hand.
And they began to know that the Son of God must shortly appear; yea, in fine, all the people upon the face of the whole earth from the west to the east, both in the land north and in the land south, were so exceedingly astonished that they fell to the earth.
For they knew that the prophets had testified of these things for many years, and that the sign which had been given was already at hand; and they began to fear because of their iniquity and their unbelief. and it came to pass that there was no darkness in all that night, but it was as light as though it was midday. And it came to pass that the sun did rise in the morning again, according to its proper order; and they knew that it was the day that the Lord should be born …
Family rises and gazes steadfastly and reverently at the star. Voices are heard singing, “Silent Night, Holy Night.” (Sing three verses.)