Christmas and Easter Programs

Hello, choir directors and music chairs –

For years, people have told me I should make my Easter and Christmas programs available to other wards and branches. Recent Facebook posts about music people wanting to better implement that 2023 April General Conference admonition – to make a bigger deal out of our Easter services! – finally got me motivated. (Apologies for not doing it sooner!!) And so… here are several downloadable documents of some of the program scripts/outlines I’ve created in the past.  You can now download them and adapt them to your own use (links are at the bottom of this page).

IMPORTANT NOTE: Once you get the go-ahead to put together this kind of program, and you have your first draft of the narration and preliminary song selections, be sure to run it past your bishopric before going any further.

I use a particular format/template – with a few helpful guidelines that have evolved over years of trial and error. You decide if/what you want to emulate… it is totally up to you! But it is basically this –

  • Narration is strictly from the scriptures. With Christmas, it is a bit more cut and dried. But the Easter story is in all the gospels, so I have mixed and matched the different versions each year… trading off on which mix feels best suited to the music we pick each time. Also, you’ll see how I’ve sometimes used other scriptures just about the resurrection/atonement/singing praise, etc. because they can often help emphasize a particular point to introduce a certain song, especially an opening or closing number. (This year, we are ending with 2 songs having to do with Christ appearing in the Americas, so some 3rd Nephi narration is included. It is LONG… still figuring out what/if to cut there.) NOTE: One program example is not mine. Someone else found it online and shared it with me. I can’t find an author. If anyone knows where it came from, please let me know so I can credit it appropriately.
  • Use one narrator or several. (One is much easier logistically, but it’s up to you.) We usually set up a separate mic off to the side. Look for people who can read slowly, loudly, clearly, and WITH EXPRESSION! Personally – I love to hear awe and wonder in the narrator’s voice… like we are all hearing this for the first time. Just imagine how that would feel. (And it doesn’t have to just be men, by the way!)
  • The choir can dominate, or just give them 1 or 2 numbers. Depends on your choir and your ward.
  • If you use the whole primary for a song, try to have that as an opening number, then send them back to their seats in order to minimize disruption during the program, and maximum reverence at the end.
  • Include the congregation! Everyone loves numbers where they join in with the choir on the last verse, or sing along with the choir throughout, especially if there is some great piano/organ accompaniment to make things interesting. But just inserting a congregational hymn or Primary song in the middle can be a very wonderful thing. (Often it is just one or two verses to keep with the story line and save time. Also – that helps emphasize the message unique to that verse in an way you might otherwise not experience.)
  • Include older children, YM/YW, and adult solos/duets/trios/quartets, or a particularly musical family… etc.
  • Make use of a variety of appropriate instrumentalists whenever you can, accompanying or as a stand-alone. We’ve begun doing tasteful guitar accompaniment recently. (If you do just an instrumental number, I would recommend putting the lyrics for that song in the program so that people don’t lose the Christ-centered message of the song.)
  • This is up to you, but if you’re telling the story scripturally and chronologically, I personally obsess a bit over making sure the music I intersperse throughout the narration doesn’t give away the whole plot in advance! If you really want to use a song that does that, put it at the end or beginning as a sort of summary. In my humble opinion, it feels super powerful to hear about ONLY what happened at the last supper, in the garden, or on the cross, etc… THEN to hear music that addresses JUST that aspect of the story. To make this happen, I will often do just a verse or two of a sacrament hymn, or… take one of those all-encompassing songs, and spit the verses up throughout the narration. Somehow, being so immersed this way in each aspect of all the real drama of this – the greatest story ever told! – makes the climactic words and music of the resurrection that much more impactful.
  • I try VERY hard to focus on reverence!! One way to do this is to create a cue sheet, brief the choir in advance (In person and via email), and have printed copies available, as least a week before the performance. On the day of the program, the bishopric has me (or whoever) do a bit of an intro / explanation from the pulpit before the program starts, too… in order to lay the groundwork and help the congregation get on board with what we’re doing and why. Basically… I ask that performers ONLY head back to their seats – or – ONLY come forward from their seats to their positions (at a mic, or wherever) AFTER each song, in sequence, BEFORE the next bit of narration starts. Then make sure the narrator only begins speaking again when everyone is either seated, or standing ready to perform the next song – NOT MOVING AROUND. If you’re trying to help people feel the Spirit DURING the narration (seems important!), you’re shooting yourself in the foot if that time is used for people popping up and down, passing off fussy children, crossing in front of the congregation or the performers, etc. Pet peeve of mine. You’re welcome. (NOTE: We DO ask choir members to get help watching children if needed, so that once they come forward at the beginning of the program, they can stay there, if at all possible.)
  • We seldom have the time or opportunity for a complete run-through… sadly! But the week before or the day of (meeting early!), during choir practice we do try to at least do the narration with the transitions: the beginning and endings of each songs, traffic patterns, where/when people stand, etc. SUPER helpful.
  • I try to time everything well in advance to make sure it fits well in the allotted time slot. Some years the bishopric wanted a speaker at the end, sometimes not… so that is a huge variable in how much narration you use, and how many numbers you can include. (15 min program vs 35-40 minute, the latter being my fave!) It’s so nice now that we get to go home after big programs… so if you go 5-10 minutes over, you’re not ruining someone’s Primary or Sunday School lesson!
  • I provide a printed program or bulletin insert for the congregation. (The choir appreciates it, too!) I include all the narration text, and lyrics for the songs that everyone is invited to sing… it means they don’t even have to pick up the hymnal. (Anything to simplify seems like a bonus to me.) People have often told me they then used the printed programs for family home evenings. How cool is that?!
  • I’ve started putting artwork on the front of the inserts – using Easter/Christmas drawings from children in the ward. I’ve included one example of that, inspired by a Primary child’s doodles a parent shared online. At Christmas, I posted the need for artwork on the ward Facebook page and got four submissions. I made four versions of the program, one with each illustration, so I didn’t have to pick one. It’s a lovely thrill for the children and their families. NOTE – Our bishopric approved color copies for this purpose. 🙂 One year the copy/print place only charged for B&W because they were so enamored with the artwork and the occasion. (The example I’ve shared here.) But you can always just do pencil drawings.
  • We also have a shared drive online with rehearsal aids…  downloadable recordings of our latest rehearsals, sometimes with harmony lines laid on top as needed, pdf versions of the music (the ones that are free!), YouTube links, etc. Not everyone takes advantage of these rehearsal aids, but if you have need of extra effort given to challenging music in a short period of time, and folks willing to make use of what you share, it can make an AMAZING difference.
  • Finally – in the months leading up to each program, we ask the choir and program participants to pray for everyone involved in the program (for their health, diligent preparation, and heavenly assistance), and for the program itself to serve as a conduit for the Spirit… to minister to performers and ward members alike. It really should be a feast of healing, faith expansion, and worship and praise for everyone involved! Prayers – and even fasting (but not the day of!) – can make all the difference. I have felt angels attend us as we sang… to the point where we all knew the sound we made was not our own. Life-changing when it happens.

I think that covers it. If you have suggestions or feedback, or just want to share your experience using any of this info and/or a program outline, I’d love to hear from you! Email me at –