This isn't solely about music, but my ward does something every year that is so outstanding I just want to tell you all about it.
This is the first year I have actually planned far enough in advance to get tickets and set the evening aside to see it. I had only heard glowing reports in previous years, after it was all over with and I had missed it.
Every year--and this year it was on November 29, 30, and Dec. 1, with four performances each evening--our ward puts together an elaborate Nativity Pageant, called "Prophecy Fulfilled." The cultural hall is transformed into a Bethlehem marketplace, where each group of visitors is led by a costumed "tour guide." Here they may wander among the realistically-costumed merchants, beggars, dancers, villagers, etc., until Caesar and his men arrive and Caesar makes his pronouncement about the taxes. Amid the furor over the decree, our tour guide leads us outside, where we observe and overhear the young Joseph and Mary and their donkey, as they make their way toward Bethlehem. Mary's sweet face is spotlighted as she sings an angelic song about her impending delivery of the Christ child.
Next we are led to a hill overlooking an encampment of shepherds and sheep. As they slumber by the fire, a bright light appears above them, and groups of angels emerge and sing messages about the "newborn King."
As some of the shepherds travel toward the new star, we are invited to follow them. We are led back into another part of the meetinghouse, decorated to represent the stable. Mary and Joseph and the newborn Jesus are there, along with wise men, shepherds, lambs and other animals, angelic figures from many ages and many countries, and again Mary's pure face is lighted as she sings a lullaby to the Son of God. Then all are invited to sing along, and we are then led from that area to the chapel, which has been transformed into an ancient temple.
In this portion of the pageant, the elders of Israel are blessing the firstborn infants, including the young infant Jesus. Then some years pass, and we see the scene in the temple where Jesus has stayed behind and is teaching some of the older men while Joseph and Mary are searching for him, "sorrowing."
Then we are allowed to go back into the marketplace and enjoy refreshments, or go down the hall to see the collection of Nativity Scenes, or creches, displayed in the Relief Society room, or view "Joy to the World" and pick up a DVD and/or some pass-along cards, and leave comments and chat with others.
There are over 200 costumes, countless cast members (LDS and non-LDS alike), live farm animals, a huge amount of decorating and set design and work and rehearsal that goes into this production, beginning in about August if I recall correctly.
There are 12 performances, and tickets are given out (it's free, but you have to reserve a spot) to hold the group's numbers to about 30-35. The tickets go fast, and a huge percentage of them are non-LDS community members. So approximately 400 people see this inspiring, touching, spiritual testimony every year in our community, and the feeling of love and the true spirit of Christmas is phenomenal in that context.
The musical numbers are exactly right, and the young mom we had portraying Mary this year was perfect in the role. I was so proud of the fantastic presentation. I love my ward. Wow. I haven't felt this way about my ward family in a very long time. It feels good.
Have a nice day, unless you already have other plans.