The First Ornaments of Christmas

by The First Ornaments of Christmas

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The First Ornaments of Christmas is a live multimedia project from the brain/hand/pen/voice of Bentonville, AR Resident Bryce Napier and a surrounding group of artists. Defying easy categorization, the creators jokingly call it a Christmas-indie-classical-multimedia-rock-opera. In the live setting, the 11-piece band performs with narrative breaks between 11 songs. At the same time, animated footage plays on projectors overhead, illustrating the story being sung.

‘First Ornaments’ is a Christmas feast for the eyes and ears, helping viewers imagine the Christmas story like never before. Parents, children, art students, and music enthusiasts alike enjoy the beautifully-designed characters, the bright colors, and the imaginative sounds. The project was performed live 3 times in 2011, 6 times in 2012, and 2 times in 2013.

Winter 2015 upcoming shows:
November 28 at 8pm - Jones Center; Springdale, AR (at the conclusion of the Springdale Christmas Parade)
December 10th at 7pm - Samaritan House Fellowship; Springdale, AR
December 16th at 6:30pm - Fellowship Bible Church; Rogers, AR
December 18th at 7pm - New Heights Church Warehouse; Fayetteville, AR

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released November 15, 2012

Recorded August 2012 at Insomniac Studios in Fayetteville, AR by Adam Putman.
Produced and mixed by Adam Putman.
Mastered by Mike Piacentini at West West Side Music in Tenafly, NJ.
Executive produced by Greg Heger.
All songs and narration written by Bryce Napier.
All music ©2012 Bryce Napier.

First Ornaments of Christmas: Trevor Bates (guitar), Cameron Heger (drums, percussion), Bryce Napier (vocals, piano, guitar), Toby Wills (bass)

Additional performers: Alden Napier (narration), Heather Napier (vocals), Adam Putman (percussion, snare)

Animation by Kyle McCarthy.
Concept and illustrations by Bryce Napier.
Additional illustrations by Craig Ford.
Case, disc, and liner note design by Joel Storie.

Thanks to God the Father, Jesus the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit of God; Fellowship Bible Church of Northwest Arkansas; our supportive friends, families, and fans; Andrea; Elly; Susanna; Adam. Special thanks to Greg Heger, for his humbling encouragement, support, and investment.



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The First Ornaments of Christmas Fayetteville, Arkansas

The First Ornaments of Christmas is a live multimedia project from the brain/hand/pen/voice of Rogers, AR resident Bryce Napier. A re-imagining of the Christmas story told through live music, narration, and animated footage, the project was performed in Northwest Arkansas in December 2011 and 2012. ... more

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Track Name: Hark! (An Introduction)
For to us a child is born,
To us a son is given,
And the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
Track Name: First Ornaments of Christmas
Once upon a time,
Deep in the heavens,
Surrounded by planets,
There lived a star.
A star and an angel
Who became decorations
God placed a star
Guarded by an angel.
They appeared Christmas night
To announce the coming Savior
They appeared as a sign
That would help the shepherds find
The Christ child.
Born to a virgin
In a humble manger
Born to redeem mankind.
Track Name: Breath of Fire
Before the first Christmas
A star hung all aglow
Far in the distance,
Like a dim shop window.
It was so deep in the sky
That no mortal eyes
Could tell it was there.
And the star thought that nobody cared.

When all other stars,
On the clearest of nights,
Were shining their proudest
And being their loudest
And seeing whose starlight could
Dazzle the crowd first,
This far away star
Stood like a lone sprocket
Whose shape fit no engine,
Clock, wheel, or socket.
It felt like a drum
That would never be beaten,
Or like a flower whose blossoms withered
Before anyone could see them.
Fearing its glimmer would never be known
The star gave a shimmer and quivered and groaned.
“Alone, I’m alone, and forever alone,
No body to see me
No body to free me
From this baron existence
Here in the distance.”
But these thoughts had no sooner
Crossed the star’s mind
When out of the thick darkness
Came a small voice, like a chime.
But then the voice became vast
Like great ringing bells
So that the star stood still and listened
To what this great voice had to tell.

With a breath of fire
Like rushing water
God gave the star
He gave it a mission,
To help free humans
From the power of sin.
Saying, “You get to be,
The star of Bethlehem.
You’ll appear as a sign
When my son is born unto man.
You’ll lead shepherds and wise men
Out of desserts and darkness
You’re the first ornament of Christmas!
You’ll come to rest
Over Mary, the virgin
And Joseph, the carpenter, her faithful husband.
And you’ll shine like a jewel in the crown of creation.
And when this tiny blue world passes away
You’ll adorn the head of my bride in Revelation,
As one of the twelve stars that she’ll wear like a garland.
Then God summoned an angel
To Guide the star through time
Saying, “You are to lead
The Bethlehem star
And tend to its needs
As it journeys afar.
Keep it from the evil one,
Keep it from danger
You are the Christmas guardian
Who will defend my manger.
Track Name: Bethlehem Town
With their tasks assigned
And their direction aligned
The star and the angel traveled through outer space
Gliding swiftly at a steady pace.
Until far in the distance,
A dim twinkle they saw
T’was the tiny blue Earth
In which stable, manger, and straw
Would soon house the birth
Of a savior for all.

Drawing near to the planet in the stillness ahead
The angel turned to the star,
And in star language said,
“As you see, Earth is close.
We are nearly there.
We may yet arrive
With some time to spare.
But onward from here
The danger will grow
I must go on ahead
In order to know
That the stable is safe before the family arrives
And that we all will be ready if the enemy tries,
With minions, dissentions, and false opinions,
To use his knowledge of stealth and cunning
To try and prevent Christmas from ever coming.
These matters have caused me no small apprehension
It’s a problem that requires my immediate attention.
But, star, stay steady onward
Towards that blue world with one moon.
And there I will meet you again very soon.”
With a flash and a snap
The angel flew to Earth like a comet,
And sparks trailed in his wake
Till he landed upon it.

When the Angel flew down
Into the tiny cold town
He knew not where to go
T’was just beginning to snow.
All the town’s people’s doors
Were locked very tight.
The angel looked round
And saw no one else in sight.

There were no banners strung high
To hail the Christ Child
No celebration
No celebration

No trumpets to sound
No glistening crown
No gathering crowd crying
No children on shoulders
Who’d climbed up to see,
Just a plain dreary town
Of no special renown
Whose people had all gone to sleep.

The dark windows of Bethlehem town
Loomed ominously like a disquieting frown.
The gloomy sight could not help but remind
The angel that he’d left heaven far, far behind.
Was he on the right planet?
Had there been some mistake?
Why would Christ come here
Why, for heaven’s sake?
The question had him baffled, bewildered, and befuddled
The question buzzed around him
So that he winced and struggled
But perplexity suddenly turned into surprise
When a movement right beside him caught his sharp angel eyes.
T’was in the very same thicket of evergreen trees
Where the Angel crouched hidden down on his knees,
That a white bearded shepherd and his wooly white sheep
Sat huddled together keeping warm in a heap.
Freezing still as a stone, the Angel tried not to panic.
“Surely they’ve seen me,” he thought
His mind racing and frantic.
Thinking of what in the world he should to do
He remained still as could be trying not to move.
But then to his dismay
He watched one sheep lift its nose
As if catching a mysterious scent
The sheep turned towards him and rose.
Towards him it walked on its tiny sheep toes
Making whispery sounds in the powdery snows.
The rest of the flock and the shepherd himself
Remained oblivious to the Angel, though beside them he knelt.
But in moments his presence they’d surely realize
If the Angel did nothing. So he needed a disguise.
To conceal himself he’d have to do more than just freeze
He’d have to transform himself in to the likeness of these.
So he waited for the wary sheep before him to blink
And in the bat of an eye he morphed from Angel to sheep!
Track Name: The Shepherd's Flock
And so the Angel pretended
To be a mere sheep.
Into the flock his disguise blended
And the shepherd didn’t know.
And they started walking home.
Down through the fields they went towards the road.
The road bore no travelers.
And so they journeyed alone.

And that’s when they heard it
A soft, sweet cry
The Angel turned then,
To look behind
He saw a man
A man and his wife
Approaching far on a hill
And instantly he knew who they were
They were Christ’s parents on Earth

The shepherd saw them too
The woman was crying
She seemed to be in pain
She looked very pregnant
And then her husband explained,
Joseph, he explained.

“Shepherd, Shepherd, you’re an answer to prayer.
We’ve been looking in Bethlehem but found no shelter there?
Do you know, a place we could go, somewhere close, close by?
As you can see, Mary’s in labor. My name’s Joseph and Mary is my wife.”
Track Name: A Stable Full / Noel
“Surely you can come with me
I’ll take you to my place.
There Mary can lie comfortably,
It isn’t far away.
It’s not a home of luxury,
But you won’t need to pay
It’s a stable full of animals and hay.
Is that ok?
It’s a stable full of animals and hay.”

So with him Mary and Joseph went
Over a hill into the stable.
The Shepherd had several torches lit
And made a bed out of a table
And once the couple had settled in
And the Shepherd had helped them all he could
He went outside to count his sheep
But found he had more sheep than he should.
When counting and recounting them
Made their number neither greater nor lesser
He paused and noticed, on the ground,
There lay a large, peculiar, white feather.
Then another and another he saw
And following the feathers, like a trail
The trail of feathers led him to
One sheep with a timid tucked tail
“Oh, there you are, you stray lost sheep.
You are no sheep of mine.”
He then reached down to stroke its head
But wool, he did not find.
Wool he’d seen on every sheep,
Every other sheep he’d met.
However, where wool would be on this one,
Somehow feathers had grown instead.
As if to voice the shock he felt,
From within the stable issued forth Mary’s cry
And tearing his eyes away from the feathery sheep
The shepherd turned to go inside.
But even as he turned away
The sheep before him began to change
Into something not quite natural, something very strange.
It was as if the sheep had hidden folds unraveling,
Like layers peeling back and then again together gathering
“What are you strange sheep, if neither beast nor man you be?
I do not mean you any harm
If you mean no harm towards my friends, nor me.”
But even as the shepherd stood muttering astounded
He watched as the sheep then sprouted wings,
Which left him all the more confounded.
Then another and another wing
And then there came an ethereal light.
Swept with feeling overwhelmed
The shepherd knelt covering his eyes
For a moment he felt his heart would drown
Between the brightness of light and Mary’s cries.

It was a voice that filled his ears with a pleasant ringing.
Then opening his eyes he saw, it was an angel singing.

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the East beyond them far
And to the earth it gave great light
And so it continued both day and night.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!”

“The First Noel, the Angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

And through the hills their carol rang,
With the tones of mankind and angles blending,
The first sounds of Christmas cheer they sang
At our Christmas season’s first beginning
But this shepherd and angel weren’t the only ones
Who knew that on this very night
The couple within the stable had brought forth
The Messiah as prophesied
The Messiah, God in human flesh, who’d come
To set heaven and earth to rights.
In the hills, there were other wary eyes a’watching,
Eyes prowling, sneaking, scowling, and stalking.
Eyes of a wicked King
Who greeted Christ with defiance,
And This King with an evil serpent had made
An unholy alliance.
They knew Christ was coming
And both tried to deny it,
They knew Christ was coming,
And neither of them liked it.
Track Name: An Evil Alliance
Once there was an evil King
Who hated Christmas
He hated Christmas
He heard of Christ, the king of the Jews
Then ordered all baby boys killed under the age of two
He said, “Why do the people always look right past
They look right past me,
To some “messiah” in Nazareth
What about their king?

The ‘Virgin’ Mary? Oh please!
We all know she’s lying!
The ‘Virgin’ Mary? Oh please!
We all know she’s lying!

Once there was an evil dragon.
Who hated Christmas
He hated Christmas
And when he heard of the First Noel,
He was furious,
Just furious.

He said, “This world’s a sinner’s paradise,
It needs no savior.
Sin has opened up men’s eyes,
To misbehavior.

All it took was telling a few lies
To become the prince of darkness.

Now God has really messed up this time,
He’s done Himself in.
By making Himself a helpless child,
It’s like He’s letting me win.

I’ll devour Him right, right when He is born.
So that Christmas will end
Before it has begun.
And if they want a messiah
Then I’m the closest thing.
If they want a Messiah,
Then I’m the closest thing!”

Even as the Angel and the Shepherd stood gazing
At the Bethlehem star above the fields a’blazing
A shadow on the horizon eclipsed the moon with black
It was a dragon launching towards the star to attack
Streams of red fire flowed from the dragon’s mouth
Shooting fire at the star the dragon tried to blow it out
He tried to make it burn with such excessive heat
That the star burned out prematurely falling in defeat
But upon seeing the dragon, the Angel was quick to react
With sword and shield flying fast
The Angel drove the Dragon back,
But just before the Dragon had fully retreated,
He blew one last flaming breath at the Star
With such force that it receded
Blown off course away from earth
The Star went tumbling out of sight
Satisfied, the Dragon turned away
Back down to earth he turned his flight
Seeing the Star over the stable
Had given the Dragon an awful thrill
For now he knew where to find the baby
Whom this night he meant to kill.
But upon landing before the stable ready to rage and raid,
The Dragon halted in his haste
For the path was blocked by a strange blockade.
Before the stable stood the shepherd
With his sturdy sheep
And although faced by this Dragon,
Their courage they managed to keep.
Hissing in condescension the Dragon breathed inward
Then outward with deadly force he blew
But just in time the Angel flew in between the two,
This time with planted feet, his shield
Again bore the Dragon’s wrath
The Angel parried several blows
As the Dragon wildly attacked
The hideous strength of his tail
And his snapping jaws
And the crushing weight of his iron claws
Scraped and screeched
But never breeched
The Angel’s anointed arms
And through the fight.
All in vain the Dragon strained
While listening to Mary’s labor pains
Then from assailing the Angel,
The dragon retracted.
He wanted to try a different angle
That involved a different tactic.
Until now the Dragon had not spoken
Not since he’d crawled up out of the earth
But seeing the Angel’s shield could not be broken
He thought he might win the fight with words
So with a forked tongue, he spoke them.
Track Name: Why Disrupt this Christmas Eve?
Angel, you have heard it said before
Cut the snake off at its head if you want it dead
And that’s just what we, we are both trying to do here
You’re sure this baby is the real king?
His nature is beyond our reckoning.
Can humanity and divinity be blended into a real thing?
Angel who, who are you, to tell me that I’m being foolish?
Angel why do you think this baby has the right to rule me?

Dragon, if you really don’t believe
In the greatness of this child’s deity
Then why disrupt, why disrupt this Christmas Eve?
With you it’s just the same old story
When threatened by God’s greater majesty
You long to prove that God is really someone weak
And yes, as for this child tonight,
One day He will be crucified
But it’s not, it’s not yet time
First He’ll lead a human life
(The Shepherd Talking)
And you will be beaten
By a little lamb
Even you raging dragon
Must heed the Father’s plan

From behind the stable, the star arose
Having absorbed the dragon’s fire
All the brighter it glowed
Blinding the dragon, and giving the Angel the chance
To strike one of the dragon’s giant toes,
So that he was thrown off balance
Howling in pain, the dragon limped from where he stood
Then he turned and left the stable
He’d been driven off that night for good
Gravity had sling-shotted the star round the earth
So that after tumbling away
It reappeared over Christ’s birth.
It came to rest again over the stable
And throughout the country could be seen
Hanging like a lamp over a giant evergreen.
Track Name: Mary's Lullaby / O Come all Ye Faithful
Then in the warmth of the stable
Where the Christ Child lay
Wrapped in swaddling clothes
In a manger of hay
Into the face of God’s Son
Mary and Joseph peacefully gazed.
Hand in hand and in awe
Softly, to Him, they sang.

“Joseph look, Look at our sweet son--He’s heaven’s gift!
See His eyes and His countenance so innocent!
Born in this world, a world so corrupt
What will they do to Him when he grows up?”

Then Joseph said, with confidence,
“Mary, God knows all of this.
And I am convinced
That no matter what, Jesus exists
As the answer for us.

And my baby boy
Will be such a great King
That no evil plots against Him
Will ever succeed

“Joseph look, Look at our sweet son--He’s heaven’s gift!
See His eyes and His countenance so innocent!
Born in this world, a world so corrupt
What will they do to Him when he grows up?”

Then Joseph said, with confidence,
“Mary, God knows all of this.
And I am convinced
That no matter what, Jesus exists
As the answer for us.

And my baby boy
Will be such a great King
That no evil plots against Him
Will ever succeed

Oh Come all ye faithful
Joyful and triumphant
Come all ye citizens of heaven above
Come and behold Him
Born the King of angels
Oh come let us adore Him
Oh come let us adore Him
Oh come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord.

(speaking, Luke 2:8-14)
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field,
keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them,
and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them:
Fear not for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you:
Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel
a multitude of the heavenly host praising God,
and saying, Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace,
good will to men on whom His favor rests.

And my baby boy
Will be such a great king
That no evil plots against him
Will ever succeed
Track Name: From the East (A Welcoming)
Soon all throughout the land word spread
That Jesus Messiah had come
Bringing peace and healing to a broken world
Word of this reached far beyond Judea into the East
And among those who heard were three Wise Men
They had also seen the star
And came to welcome Jesus to the world.

From the East there
There came Three Great Wise Men
They heard of Jesus
And so they came to worship him

They came from afar
Followed the star
Through deserts and darkness and daylight
They rode
They came bearing gifts
To give to their prince
Who’d be King of All Kings
By divine Ordinance
Gold and frankincense and mirth
they brought him
Gold and frankincense and Mirth
they offered at his feet

From the East there
There came Three Great Wise Men
They heard of Jesus
And so they came to worship him

Upon arriving they met
Herod, the King
Who saw their fine gifts
And treated them kindly
“Greetings my Wise men,
Come let us be friends.
What brings you so far
from the east to my lands?”

“Herod, Herod, you must have seen it
The star there hovering over Bethlehem!

We believe the Messiah
Has been born
As the prophets of old told us

Wise men slow down now
I know you’re smart
And maybe your right
Then again maybe not
But it’s no matter.
Whom ever you meet
Beneath that star,
won’t you bring him to me?

Although Herod, too was a wise man,
The wise men were wiser men.
And they did not trust him.
They went to Jesus
and gave their gifts
and then went home
and told others that the Messiah lives.
Track Name: Joy to the World
Joy to the world
The Lord has come
Lion of Judah

Let heaven and nature sing
Let heaven and nature sing
Let heaven and nature sing

No more let sin
and sorrow grow

He comes to make His blessings flow
As far as the curse of sin is found
As far as the curse is found

Because He rules the World with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove His righteousness

Repeat the sounding joy
Every man, every woman, girl and boy
Repeat the sounding joy

It’s Christmas time,
Let our praises rise to the King