STAR OF WONDER: AN EPIPHANY STORY - Extending the Christmas Season


Jesse's Song

After reading Star of Wonder about the young shepherd who saw the star and led the way, teach your children the spiritual "Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow." It's an American folk song, easily found online at such places as (music and lyrics), or on YouTube (videotaped performance).

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Star caroling

As the children learn the song, consider having them actually play follow the leader: Put a star on a stick to lead the way, with the children passing the star along after each refrain so everyone gets a chance to be the leader. This tradition of gathering in groups to follow a star while singing Epiphany carols is called "star caroling." Make your star caroling as lively and festive as you like; consider having an adult as the first leader, setting the stage for creative adventuring by taking the children over and under furniture as they follow the star.

Shepherd Costumes

Because Epiphany is a holiday with a tradition of performance, consider having the children make easy shepherd costumes using extra-big t-shirts or pillow cases with arm holes, tied at the waist with a scarf, necktie, or other length of fabric. Then when they parade around singing "Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow" they'll look like a band of shepherds and shepherdesses.


For a family game, you could have the children play "Journey of the Magi" by taping a star to the wall, blindfolding them one by one, spinning them gently, then seeing who ends up closest to the star (hence the Holy Family). The child who comes closest to reaching the star could then be the first to lead the star caroling (or the second, if you want an adult to begin).

Royal costumes and caroling

In honor of the Three Kings, those three strangers that Jesse welcomes, you could also teach the children "We Three Kings" and use the same star to lead the way on another costume parade. If you aren't sure of words or tune, you can see it sung here, with printed lyrics or look at Jennifer Avalon's video. To turn shepherds into kings and queens, have each child make a crown, and then, for a royal robe, tie or pin a towel over the shoulders, or make simple capes out of scraps of fabric, held together with snaps, velcro, or pins. Once again pass the star around so the children get to take turns being the leader.

Combined caroling

Another option is to have the children choose one costume to create, and have a parade of both shepherds and royalty as the children parade from room to room—even outside if the weather is good—singing both songs alternately

House Blessing

Since Epiphany used to be one of the holidays when families would bless their homes, you might consider closing the parade with a blessing of each room in your home, stopping for the children to give thanks for the good things that happen in each space. Weather permitting, you could conclude by circling the outside of the house or apartment building, still following the star, singing the Doxology as a way to bless the place:
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise God, all creatures here below;
Praise God above, ye Heavenly Host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.
(For those like me who can't actually sing, star caroling may be more of a "joyful noise" than what anyone would call "music," and I admit that I usually stick with "We Three Kings" because it's more familiar, but it can still be fun, and as children learn the words and tune, their voices will carry you along.)

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