Catholic Activity: Advent Plays and Hymns
One of the best ways for children to learn about Christ's life is to act out the Gospel stories themselves, and sing related songs. To accompany these dramas are the two hymns, The Annunciation and the Trip to Bethlehem, sung to the Latin chant, Creator Alme Siderum.
The days of Advent receive their proper significance when children react the mysteries of each day's Gospel. In the Middle Ages, Holy Mother Church taught the people by such mystery plays — plays about the life of Christ. Sometimes we read the Gospel and the children act it out. Other times we tell the Gospel story and let the children use their own words. One of the loveliest of such scenes was staged at Corpus Christi School where our Sheila, as Mary, dramatized our Lady in her home at the coming of Herod's messenger and on the subsequent journey. Scarves, bathrobes, remnants and old lace dresses make excellent costumes.
In this connection there is a delightful hymnal, The Story of the Redemption for Children [Catholic Culture Editor's Note: This is now available online as a .pdf file from Musica Sacra]. They love the songs. They sing The Annunciation set to the music of the Latin hymn Creator Alme Siderum. Another simple hymn suitable for this season and set to the same music is The Trip to Bethlehem.
The Annunciation 1. One day while Mary knelt in prayer She saw an angel standing there. His glory filled the dwelling place. He said to her, "Hail, full of Grace!"
2. Now Mary feared and bowed her head. "Oh, do not fear," the angel said, "For God shall send His Son to thee. His holy Mother, thou shalt be."
3. Then Mary spoke the blessed word: "Behold the Handmaid of the Lord. As thou hast said, so be it done." The Son of God became her Son.
The Trip to Bethlehem 1. St. Joseph brushed the donkey neat Put Mary in the saddle seat, Then took his staff of hickory limb, And started off for Bethlehem.
2. They traveled on for many days Along the winding dusty ways But no complaint was heard from them, A-trav'ling down to Bethlehem.
3. The richer folk would hurry by In carriages all fine and high, And proudly look away from the, A-trav'ling down to Bethlehem.
4. At last, when Joseph halted there, The inn was full; and ev'rywhere He heard them say, through ev'ning gloom So sorry, sir, we have no room.
Activity Source: Family Advent Customs by Helen McLoughlin, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1979