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Bethlehem Carols Unpacked (PDF Download)

Creative ideas for Christmas carol services - PDF format to download

Lucy Moore and Martyn Payne with BibleLands

£8.99 View sample pages Add to basket Buy now


What makes for an exciting and involving carol service? Bethlehem Carols Unpacked has many creative answers to that question.

Bethlehem Carols Unpacked, published in partnership with BibleLands, offers all those planning a Christmas carol service with the opportunity to create a vibrant service through a wealth of pick-and-mix ideas, including creative storytelling, poetry, prayer, drama and worship. Taking eleven popular carols as its starting point, the material explores the different aspects of the Christmas message and gives you the chance to create a truly memorable carol service.

Bethlehem Carols Unpacked is ideal for clergy, lay ministers, children's workers and service leaders. It is also well suited for primary school teachers, RE coordinators and head teachers, and all those who are planning a carol service.


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Author info

Lucy Moore has been part of the Barnabas ministry team since 2001. Her published work include The Lord's Prayer Unplugged and Messy Church, among others, all published by Barnabas. Martyn Payne joined the Barnabas team in January 2003. Martyn is the author of A-cross the World and Footsteps to the Feast. BibleLands works in partnership with more than 50 projects in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Lebanon and Egypt.


From Church Music Quarterly - December 2008

What price good organist/clergy relationships? The answer is simple - it is the cost of this book. Give your clergy this book as a present and he/she will be your friend for life. Putting a new slant on the Christmas story is a perennial problem for clergy and musicians alike, especially when preparing Christmas liturgy for small children and indeed for young people in general.

As the subtitle suggests, eleven of the best known carols are 'unpacked', in terms of the story behind the carol, the biblical story of the carol and the meaning of the carol. Biblical links and quotations are also provided. What makes this book so useful is the subsequent 100 or so pages where the authors give creative ideas for using and illustrating the carols by means of poetry, drama and indeed all the human senses. Some of these dramas are quite short and would be suitable for use during a carol service to highlight a particular carol. Others are longer and would make the basis for an all-age talk/ sermon or as an alternative to the traditional nativity story. Many of the dramas use props, mostly home-made or simple to find though a bag of fresh hay might be difficult to find in urban areas in December. There are often sound, visual and other sensory effects together with movement and actions ideal for the young. The imagery used is mainly contemporary with pizza, mobile phones and television all making an appearance.

Not being directly based on the nativity story, 'Good King Wenceslas' is a carol sometimes hard to fit into a traditional carol service. Here the authors give useful ways of incorporating this tale of love and generosity into almost any Christmas service.

The book is co-authored by BibleLands, purveyor of the well-known Bethlehem Carol Sheet. This is a (150 year old) charity who support a variety of projects in the Middle East and one of the chapters in the book suggests ways in which you might support or raise the profile of their work through the use of carols. I have already given a copy to my vicar, not to curry favour you understand as our relationship is good, but because this is the sort of imaginative use of traditional material that those of us who plan all-age worship so desperately need.

Reviewed by John Henderson

From The Good Bookstall website, November 2008

This is a resources book for carol services. It takes 11 'top favourite' carols from the BibleLands carol sheets, and examines the stories of the carols themselves, the stories the carols tell, and the meanings of the carols. It then explores a wide variety of creative ways of using the carols in the context of a carol service, as well as ideas and resources for use alongside the carols, exploring their themes and narratives, and including poems, dramas, prayers, and readings. There are special sections about involving children - including the under 5s - in the carols, and for linking the carols to BibleLands projects. There is a very large number of resources and ideas of all kinds in this book, to suit all kinds of carol services. There is even a brief history of carols and carol singing. Whilst I read it from cover to cover in order to review it, it's very much a mix-and-match, dip-in sort of book.

Reviewed by Martin Brasier

Book details

  • ISBN: 9781841016191Z
  • Published: 19 September 2008
  • Status:
  • Format: PDF Download
  • Pages: 208
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