A preschool song, Mary and Joseph Went to Bethlehem
(Editor’s note: If you’re interested in seeing this song, which generally is performed in preschool Christmas programs, search the title on YouTube at www.youtube.com.)
There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed … And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee … to be taxed with Mary, his espoused wife, being great with child. Luke 2:1-5 KJV
As the editor of this booklet, I searched high and low for a song about the actual journey to Bethlehem. There aren’t that many. One I found repeatedly was for preschoolers—four verses to the tune of “Ten Little Indians” with the first verse “Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem, riding on a donkey.” Simple enough. In the first verse you move up and down holding pretend reins, like you’re riding a donkey; the next three verses that follow are “All of the inns were filled with travelers … There was no room for Mary (shaking your head “no”),” “Baby Jesus born in a stable … Sent by God at Christmas (rocking Jesus in your arms),” and “Angels all sang Hallelujah … Jesus Christ is born (putting your hands to your mouth like a megaphone).”
We use simple concepts to teach small children about Christmas and Jesus’ birth, concepts that really don’t need to be complicated for any of us with weighty theological considerations. During this Advent season, just concentrate on the simple miracle that God’s Son came to live among us at Christmas and eventually to become the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Consider doing one new thing to remember this central fact. If you don’t already, sing Happy Birthday to Jesus sometime this holiday season. I suspect you’ll be glad you did.
Mary Jo Powell