How Lovely Are Your Branches
by Deb Brammer
The Martin Kids—Angela, Wesley, Seth, Christy (the youngest)
Ornaments on the Tree—Tree Angel, Gold Ball, Light, Candy Cane, Bell, Star
(These talking ornaments may be puppets or children dressed as ornaments. See detailed options following the body of the play.
The program takes place in the Martin’s living room. A big cardboard Christmas tree stands to one side. Beside the tree and facing the audience is a couch. Beside the couch is another easy chair. Decorate the living room to look like an ordinary living room decorated for Christmas.
See more details about Christmas Tree options following the body of the play.
Angela, Wesley, and Seth all need costumes that they can hold up to themselves, as if admiring themselves. These costumes don’t actually have to fit, just look like they would. Angela needs a long white angel gown; Wesley a purple (or other rich color) gown; Seth an old bathrobe. You could get along without these, but it gives the children something to do and gives a bit of movement to the play.
See more details about the Ornament costumes following the body of the play.
Various characters sing one line of the following public domain songs:
Angels We Have Heard on High
0 Christmas Tree
We Three Kings
Tunes are used for the following public domain songs:
0 Christmas Tree
The Twelve Days of Christmas
These last two may be accompanied on piano if desired.
Narrator: Christmas is the most exciting season of the year in the Martin family. Christmas packages pile up under the tree. The aroma of hot gingerbread fills the air. The calendar bursts with activities: Christmas parties, Christmas carolling, shopping, dinner at Grandma’s, the church cantata. But for the Martin kids, the highlight of the entire season is the church Christmas program. Listen to their excitement as they come home from their first program practice.
(Angela, Wesley, Seth, and Christy enter and form a semi-circle near the Christmas tree.)
Angela: (holding the gown up to herself and twirling around) I can hardly wait until the Christmas program. I get to be an angel and wear this lovely white gown. I get to wear a shiny gold belt. And all the angels get to wear halos.
Wesley: (bragging) I get to be a wise man. We have cool costumes too. (holds up costume) See? Mine is purple and there’s a silver belt to go with it. And I get to carry a fancy box of frankincense.
Angela: (also bragging) Mrs. Parker said she was going to try to make feather wings for all the angels. Then we’ll really be beautiful!
Wesley: She’s going to make us wise men big, impressive hats with baubles on them.
Christy: What are baubles?
Wesley: I don’t know, but they must be cool if the wise men wear them.
Angela: I get to sing a song. (sings) “Gloria in excelsis deo.”
Seth: (disappointed) You guys are lucky. I have to be a shepherd and wear Dad’s old bathrobe again.
(Seth throws the bathrobe on the couch and sits beside it. During the next lines Wesley sits on the other end of the couch, Angela sits in a chair, and Christy sits on the floor near the tree.)
Christy: (with innocent excitement) I get to be a Christmas tree!
Seth: A tree? And I thought my costume was bad! At least I don’t have to hide behind a cardboard tree.
Wesley: Why does Mrs. Parker want you to be a tree?
Christy: I don’t know. But she says it’s a very important part, even if I don’t have any lines. Everyone gathers round me and sings, (sings) “0 Christmas tree, 0 Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches!”
Wesley: Why would she want a Christmas tree in the church Christmas program? Christmas trees aren’t in the Bible. They’re just a modern tradition. I guess the Bible mentions a few trees, but they are never important. It’s not like they talk or anything.
Seth: Wait a minute. I just read about some talking trees in the Bible in my devotions.
Angela: You must have a different Bible than I do. I’ve been going to church all my life and I’ve never heard about any talking trees.
Seth: Well, maybe you ought to try reading your Bible through like Pastor said we should. I am. It may take me a few years but I’m already in the
book of Judges. I found this funny parable about these talking trees that I’d never heard of before.
Christy: See? Trees must be important if the Bible has a whole story about them.
Wesley: What did the trees say?
Seth: Well, I guess the trees wanted to find a tree to be their king and rule over them. So they asked the olive tree if he would be their king. He said he was too busy making olive oil to be king.
Wesley: I like olives. Why do people have to ruin perfectly good olives to make olive oil?
Seth: Well, I guess they used olive oil in the temple and for lots of other things. The olive tree said, “Why should I quit giving oil that people use to honor God and men to rule over the trees?” It was something like that anyway.
Christy: So who became the king? The Christmas tree?
Seth: No. There were no Christmas trees. But there was a fig tree. He was too busy growing figs to be king. And the grape vine was too busy growing grapes.
Angela: Didn’t anyone want to be king?
Seth: Actually, the bramble bush wanted to be king. I guess he wasn’t busy doing anything useful, so he figured he might as well be king. It sounded like he was a mean ruler, though.
Christy: I don’t want to be a bramble bush. I want to be a Christmas tree. Christmas trees are beautiful.
Wesley: But a Christmas tree isn’t really good for anything except decoration. It’s not like an apple or orange tree that grows fruit. A Christmas tree doesn’t even last long because you have to chop it down to use it.
Christy: It’s OK if you chop me down. (stands up straight and tall) I can still stand straight and tall and point to God in heaven.
Angela: (like a protective big sister) I’m sure you’ll make a nice Christmas tree. And since you don’t have any lines to memorize, you won’t have to worry about forgetting them.
(Christy sits back down.)
Wesley: Of course, the Christmas tree doesn’t have any lines. Trees can’t talk.
Gold Ball: (offended) Excuse me, Buddy! This Christmas tree has lots to say.
(Kids turn to look at Christmas tree, as if surprised to hear it talking.)
Wesley: That’s weird. I thought I heard a noise coming from the Christmas tree just now.
Gold Ball: You sure did. Except the tree’s not talking, it’s me‑Mr. Gold Ball. Everyone talks about the Christmas tree. They even sing about it. (sings) “Oh, Christmas tree, Oh, Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches.” But they forget that the ornaments are what make the tree beautiful. Without us the tree would be stark naked! Beautiful ornaments like me make a tree worth singing about.
Light: What are you going on about? You think you’re so great. You don’t even do anything. I, however, light up the whole tree.
Candy Cane: Pardon me, Mr. Bright Light, but you seem to forget that you are purely ornamental, just like Mr. Gold Ball. I, on the other hand, am the sweetest thing on the tree. I not only look good, I taste good, too.
Bell: Ding, dong. Ding, dong. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without music. (sings) “Jingle bells. Jingle bells. Jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to ride on a one horse open sleigh.”
Star: (offended) Hello! Has everyone forgotten who the real star of the show is? (sings) “Star of wonder, star of night. Star with royal beauty bright.” I think the star is the most important. In fact, I often get put on the top of the tree. I don’t know what that angel is doing up there.
Tree Angel: Who me? I’m just thinking about that great tree story we just heard.
Seth: You heard my story? I didn’t know you were listening.
Gold Ball: You’d be surprised at the things Christmas trees hear. We know all kinds of secrets.
Tree Angel: (clears throat) As I was saying, the story was great. But all this talk about who’s the best, who’s got the best costume, who’s the most important‑‑it makes me think we missed the moral of the story.
Star: Leave it to an angel to skip over all the fun parts of a story and go right to the moral at the end.
Angela: She’s right. We do sound a lot like the bramble bush. It’s funny that the trees that were busy working didn’t have time to be king. But the thorny old bramble bush didn’t care about being useful. He only wanted to be important.
Christy: The Christmas tree is important, isn’t it? Look at this nice tree. It stands straight and tall and points to God, just like I will do in the Christmas program.
Star: Look, I may not be at the top of the tree, but at least I know how to get to the point. In fact, I have five points. So could we get to the point?
Tree Angel: Well, I was thinking about the angels who sang that first Christmas night.
Angela: I know what they sang. (sings) “Gloria in excelsis deo.”
Angel ornament: Do you know what “gloria in excelsis deo” means?
Angela: I guess it means our song is glorious.
Tree Angel: Not really. “Gloria in excelsis deo” is Latin for “Glory to God in the highest.”
Angela: How do you know about these things? You’re just an ornament on a tree.
Tree Angel: I read a lot. It’s amazing what you can find in books.
Angela: You can read?
Tree Angel: If I can talk, why couldn’t I read, too? Hey, it’s a Christmas program. Anything can happen.
Star: And the point is?
Tree Angel: The point is: the angels must have been beautiful and had beautiful voices. But they didn’t sing about themselves. They sang, “Glory to God in the highest.” I actually like the little Christmas tree girl’s idea. Maybe we need to be like the Christmas tree and point to God instead of to ourselves.
Christy: (sweetly) See? I don’t need any lines in the program to have an important part. I can point to Jesus just like everyone else.
Light: Isn’t that little girl just the sweetest thing?
Candy Cane: Actually, I’m the sweetest.
Light: Didn’t you hear a word the angel said? I light up the Christmas tree‑ but my real job is to remind everyone of Jesus. He is the True Light of the World. People who follow Him “shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
Star: You’re right, Mr. Bright Light. I’m not the star of the show. Jesus is. I’m supposed to point the way to Him, just like the Christmas star that showed the wise men the way to Jesus.
Bell: Ding, dong. Ding, dong. I’ve been a real “ding‑dong.” Here I am ringing my own tune when I’m supposed to be announcing the good news of Jesus. (sings to the tune of “Jingle Bells.”) “Ring the bells, ring the bells, tell how Jesus came. You can have eternal life if you trust in His name.”
Candy Cane: I know how I can point to Jesus. I may be sweet, but the sweetest name in the whole world is Jesus. And I’m shaped just like a shepherd’s crook and the shepherds were the first ones to hear the good news about Jesus.
Seth: That’s right. Don’t forget us shepherds. We were the first ones to spread the news about Jesus. We’re important even if we do have to wear old bathrobes.
Christy: Hey, Big Brother. Aren’t you forgetting something?
Seth: Oh, yeah. We’re not important. It’s the news we bring that’s important. We need to tell about Jesus and his birth in Bethlehem.
Gold Ball: What can I do? All of you can point the way to Jesus, but all I do is hang there and look pretty.
Christy: Wait a minute Mr. Gold Ball. You and Candy Cane should get together. With your colors you could be like The Wordless Book.
Tree Angel: That’s right. Your gold color can remind people of the beautiful streets of gold in heaven. If I was a real angel, I would have walked on them.
Bell: Ding, dong. Ding, dong. I hate to have to announce bad news, angel, but people have sin. That means they can’t go to heaven.
Light: If you think that, you haven’t heard the end of the story. Jesus’ blood can wash us white as snow. The red and white Candy Cane tells us that. Then we can go to heaven where the streets are gold like Mr. Gold Ball.
Christy: You guys really do make the tree pretty. In fact, you make the prettiest Christmas tree I’ve ever seen.
Gold Ball: Thank you, Christy, but we’re just doing our job.
Candy Cane: Well, if our whole reason for living was decorating the tree, I’d say we’ve done our job. But so far this season, I don’t think we’ve worked very hard at pointing people to Jesus.
Bell: Candy Cane is right. If we’re going to point people to Jesus, we’re going to have to ring out a new tune. Now, Miss Christmas Tree, if the pianist will give us a middle C(or give us an introduction), we’ll sing you a new song.
The six ornaments sing the following song to the tune of “O Christmas Tree.”
The Christmas Tree Song
by Deb Brammer
Ornaments: 0 Christmas tree, 0 Christmas tree, You point the way to Jesus. 0 Christmas tree, 0 Christmas tree, You point the way to Jesus.
Light and Star: The two of us, we twinkle bright, to tell of Jesus the True Light.
Ornaments: 0 Christmas tree, 0 Christmas tree,
Light and Star: We help you point to Jesus.
Bell: I ring the news.
Angel: I sing the news.
Bell and Angel: We tell the birth of Jesus. He came to earth, King of the Jews, and then He died to save us.
Gold Ball: He came from heaven long ago.
Candy Cane: His blood can wash us white as snow.
All: We all help decorate the tree, and point the way to Jesus.
Christy: Thank you‑‑all of you ornaments. That was a lovely song. Now every time I walk past the Christmas tree, I’ll remember something about each one of you that makes me think of Jesus.
Seth: Yes. It’s so easy to think about all the fun things we do at Christmastime, that sometimes we forget how great it is that Jesus left heaven, with all of the choirs of angels, to come to earth and die for our sins.
Wesley: I guess if I’m going to be a “wise man” I’ll have to learn to use my gifts to worship God, not show off.
Angela: Right. When I think of the bramble bush I’ll remember that a lot of times the person who does the least good is the one who wants to look the most important.
Wesley: Seth, are you sure that story is in the Bible? Whoever heard of talking trees?”
Star: What’s so strange about talking trees? We talk, don’t we? And we’re just Christmas ornaments.
Wesley: Maybe you do, but you’re just “pretend” ornaments that help us tell the Christmas story.
Seth: Actually, the story in Judges was a story a man named Jotham made up to teach those Bible people something like we’ve learned today. But now that we’ve learned our lesson, how are we ever going to remember it? People have been leaving Christ out of Christmas for a long time. How can we remember to be different?
Angela: I know. While we still have the talking ornaments with us, let’s sing a song we all can sing.
(Martin kids stand on either side of the tree‑‑Angela near Tree Angel, Seth by Candy Cane, Wesley by Star.)
(Sing to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”)
On the Very First Christmas
by Deb Brammer
1. (Use tune for the first day of Christmas.)
All: On the very first Christmas the Bible tells us of–a Babe in a manger of hay.
2. (Use tune for the second day of Christmas.)
All: On the very first Christmas the Bible tells us of…
Candy Cane, Gold Ball, Bell, Light: …two loving parents*…
All: …for the Babe in a manger of hay.
3. (Use tune for the third day of Christmas.)
All: On the very first Christmas the Bible tells us how…
Seth: …shepherds* leave their flocks, then* they rush away…
All: … (to) see the Babe in a manger of hay.
4. (Use tune for the fourth day of Christmas.)
All: On the very first Christmas the Bible tells us of …
Angela and Tree Angel: …lots* of angels singing*, to* the shepherds bringing*, news on that day,
All: of the Babe in a manger of hay.
5. (Use tune for the fifth day of Christmas.)
All: On the very first Christmas the Bible tells us of…
Star: … (a) bright golden star, shining in the night, so very* bright, pointing out the way…
All: … to the Babe in a manger of hay.
6. (Use tune for the sixth day of Christmas.)
All: On the very first Christmas the Bible tells us how…
Wesley: …wise men a‑travelling, give to the King, gifts to honor Him, and worship* Him. Then their gifts they lay,
All: at the feet of the Baby that day.
7. (Use the tune for the twelfth day of Christmas.)
All: We can learn from the things that now decorate the tree.
Star and Wesley: (12) Wise men saw the star‑, (11) Then they travelled far‑,
Angela and Tree Angel: (10) Angels came from glory (9) to tell of the story.
Seth and Candy Cane: (8) Shepherds with their crook‑(7) came to have a look‑
Gold Ball: (6) Heaven’s streets I’m told are** (5) like** the ball of gold.
Bell: (4) Bells ring out the news.
Light: (3) You* and I* should choose* (2) to shine our light to day…
All: (1) for the Babe in the manger of hay.
(To make the words fit the tune you will have to make a few changes. * means change one quarter note to two eighth notes. ** means change one half note to two quarter notes.)
End of Play Text
OPTIONS FOR CHRISTMAS TREE AND ORNAMENTS
The parts for the Ornaments can be performed by puppets or children wearing costumes. Here are options for how to make the Ornaments and the tree, depending on whether you want to use puppets or children in costumes.
Click here for detailed instructions on making puppets and puppet stage.
Costume Option #1:
For each ornament draw an oval the size of a child’s face on a large piece of cardboard. Then draw the picture of the ornament around that. Cut the face hole. Paint the ornament and cut it out. Attach elastic to the back so the child can wear it around his face like a mask (with face exposed.) Each child should wear clothes that are a neutral color or the color green.
Costume Option #2:
Do the same thing except don’t cut a face hole. Attach a string so the child can wear the ornament around his neck.
Christmas Tree Option #1:
Make a sturdy, simple set of stairs with 2 steps. The bottom three ornaments stand on the platform. The middle two ornaments stand on the first step. The Tree Angel stands on the top. They can wear green or neutral colors. You can place packages in front of their feet.
Christmas Tree Option #2:
(See diagram of the tree at the beginning.)
You will need a very large piece of cardboard (like 2 sides of a refrigerator carton). Position the children who play ornaments behind it to figure out where to cut holes for their faces. Tree Angel’s face will go at the top of the tree. Tree Angel can stand on a sturdy box or step. Bell will stand just to the side of Tree Angel on the floor so his face will come out near the middle of the tree. The Gold Ball and Light can stand on either side of Bell. Candy Cane and Star kneel on either side of Gold Ball and Light. Tree Angel needs to be at the top. Otherwise you can switch ornament positions to make them fit the tree.
Once face hole places are determined, draw circles for their faces. Draw the tree around these faces, including a large trunk at the bottom. Make sure the tree looks right and the face holes are positioned so the children are comfortable. Then cut the face holes. Paint the tree green, the trunk brown, and the area around the outline of the tree a background color, preferably the color of the wall. Around the face holes paint a large profile of each ornament, or make the ornament of cardboard and glue it to the tree.
Make a wooden triangular brace for the back to support each side of the tree. Put a few large, heavy packages in front of the tree so it can’t fall forward. Or follow directions for the Christmas tree puppet stage to hold it up. You won’t want the audience to see the children so you may want to hinge the tree in the middle like the puppet stage or add sides to the cardboard.