[Introduction by Bishopric]
1. Pre-Mortal Existence
Narrator A: And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever. And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first. (Abraham 3:24-27)
Narrator B: Since the days of Adam, prophets in all ages and places were given the vision of the creation and purpose of the earth.
A: And it came to pass that the Lord showed unto Enoch all the inhabitants of the earth. (Moses 7:21) <short pause> And when the Lord had said these words, he showed unto the brother of Jared all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be; and he withheld them not from his sight, even unto the ends of the earth. (Ether 3:25) <short pause> And it came to pass, as the voice was still speaking, Moses cast his eyes and beheld the earth, yea, even all of it; and there was not a particle of it which he did not behold, discerning it by the spirit of God. And he beheld also the inhabitants thereof, and there was not a soul which he beheld not; and he discerned them by the Spirit of God; and their numbers were great, even numberless as the sand upon the sea shore. (Moses 1:27-28)
B: Central to this common vision given to the prophets was the view of the mortal ministry of the Savior.
A: And after [the angel] had said these words, he said unto me: [Nephi,] Look! And I looked, and I beheld the Son of God going forth among the children of men; and I saw many fall down at his feet and worship him. (1 Nephi 11:24)
B: After seeing in vision, and understanding in their hearts the pivotal role of the Messiah in the salvation of all creation, these prophets could not help but long for the meridian of time, when the Savior would live among men.
A: And after [the Jaredite King Emer] had anointed [his son] to reign in his stead he lived four years, and he saw peace in the land; yea, and [Emer] even saw the Son of Righteousness, and did rejoice and glory in his day; (Ether 9:22). <short pause> Abraham rejoiced to see [Christ's] day: and he saw it, and was glad. (John 8:56)
B: Isaiah gave expression to the longing of all the ancient righteous peoples, when he pleaded for Immanuel to come (Isaiah 8:5-8). <pause, then speak slowly> O come, O come! Emmanuel!
[Choir Song, 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel']
B: Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
A: And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me: Nephi, what beholdest thou? And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins. And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God? And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things. And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh. And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms. And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! (1 Nephi 11:14)
B: And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:26-35)
A: <short pause> Isaiah declares the Messiah to be a descendant of King David's father, Jesse, by calling the Messiah the 'stem of Jesse.' (Isaiah 11:1; D&C 113:1,2). A medieval German lyricist used poetic license to refer to the coming of the Savior as rose--growing then blooming--on the stem of Jesse.
B: Lo, how a rose e'er blooming, from tender stem hath sprung
Of Jesse's lineage coming, as men of old have sung
It came a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night
Isaiah 'twas foretold it, the rose I have in mind
With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind
To show God's love a-right, she bore to men a Savoir
When half spent was the night
[Clarinet Solo, 'Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming']
A: And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. (Luke 2:1)
[Girls' Chorus, 'When Joseph Went to Bethlehem']
B: And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. (Luke 2:8-16)
[Vocal Solo, 'O Holy Night']
A: What child is this, who laid to rest, on Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet, with anthems sweet, while shepherds which are keeping?
Why lies He in, such mean estate, where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear for sinners here, the silent word is pleading.
So bring him incense, gold and myrrh; come, peasant king to own Him.
The King of Kings salvation brings; let loving hearts enthrone Him.
This, this is Christ the King, whom shephards guard and angels sing.
Haste, haste to bring Him laud, the Babe, the Son of Mary.
[Oboe Solo, 'What Child is This']
6. Savior's Mission
B: For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
A: And why do we call his name Wonderful? It is "That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created." (D&C 76:24) Moreover, as the author of Acts says, "for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4.:12) Nephi tells us, "For the atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them, that they are delivered from that awful monster, death and hell, and the devil, and the lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment; and they are restored to that God who gave them breath, which is the Holy One of Israel." (2 Nephi 9:26)
B: Let the mountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King! And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness. Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid rocks weep for joy! And let the sun, moon, and the morning stars sing together, and let all the sons of God shout for joy! And let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever! And again I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality, and eternal life; kingdoms, principalities, and powers! (D&C 128:23; cf Job 38:4-7) Halleluja!
[Choir Song, 'Alleluia'] then [Bishop's Remarks]