Monday, December 25, 2017

The Christmas Story


Luke 2 :1-39King James Version (KJV)

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
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.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;
37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Little Town of Bethlehem - A Classic Christmas Radio Drama



The First Nighter Program. December 22, 1945. CBS Radio Network. "Little Town Of Bethlehem" by Anthony Wayne. Sponsored by: Campana Cosmetics.
Barbara Luddy (Mary), Olan Soule (Joseph), Herb Butterfield, Hugh Studebaker, Phillips H. Lord, and Willard Waterman.

For many over the past 40 - 60 years on television, Christmas would not be Christmas unless Rudolph returns to the island of misfit toys, Linus tells Charlie Brown what Christmas is all about, George Bailey wants to live again, and there is at least one (or 12) Hallmark presentations.

Before television, there was radio. In that great period known as the "Golden Age of Radio" (c. 1922 - 1960) Christmas wasn't Christmas without Amos telling his daughter Arbadella the meaning of the Lord's Prayer, or Lionel Barrymore's annual performance as Ebeneezer Scrooge....and the annual presentation of "Little Town of Bethlehem" by The First Nighter Program. The First Nighter (1930 - 1953) was "radio's little theater off of Time Square" and each week the listener -  via sound effects, music and acting - was given the illusion of visiting a Broadway theater for a new performance.

 In 1933 Anthony Wayne's script for "Little Town of Bethlehem" was first performed and was glowingly received. The play became the programs' most anticipated story and would be repeated each Christmas. This 1945 broadcast was the 9th annual presentation and notes that it is the first "peace Christmas" since 1940. The play is very good, but makes the common Biblical/dramatic error of having all the events of Christ's birth happen in one evening (the shepherds, Wise Men, Joseph's dream), but this may have been done for time. The play has an interesting element of having Herod stay in the inn that holy night, therefore the innkeeper placed Mary and Joseph in a stable because he was expecting a king to honor his household, and had no room for a Nazarene carpenter and his expecting wife! Out of reverence, the Campana sales company has one advertisement, a Merry Christmas greeting.


Buffalo Courier-Express, Saturday, December 22, 1945. Radio news article with a picture of actress Barbara Luddy.
.
Mary and Joseph were played by various actors over the program's run, perhaps most famously by actress Barbara Luddy and actors Les Tremayne and Olan Soule. Only the 1945 & 1952 performances still exist and in the 1945 version that I have posted, Luddy is heard as Mary and Olan Soule is Joseph. Both were among the best radio and voice over artists to grow out of Radio's Golden Age. Luddy was "Lady" in Disney's Lady And The Tramp, Soule was later the voice of Batman in 1970s cartoons, and the voice of Bishop Clement Clark Moore in a 1968 Christmas special.

I first heard this broadcast in an old-time radio cassette collection nearly 15 years ago and have listened to it every Christmas since. It gives me great pleasure to share this great tradition with you.
Wishing you dear reader a Very Merry Christmas and please enjoy the 9th annual presentation of "Little Town of Bethlehem".

Thursday, December 7, 2017

"Hymnologues" For Christmas & Fall/Winter 2017 Updates

Hymnalogues

3-minute color films with classic Christian hymns enhanced with miniatures, produced in Hollywood.



As an older millenial, it is hard to imagine a time when Powerpoints or some sort of screen images weren't used in musical worship. It turns out that the church has used devotional film aids a lot longer than we might think.

The Hymnalogue films were short visualizations of church hymns created by Neil McGuire Productions and the (ADA) Audio-visual Devotional Aids of North Hollywood. Four were released in the fall of 1945* for Christmas: O Little Town Of Bethlehem, Silent Night, Jingle Bells, and O Come All Ye Faithful. Three of these shorts seem to be the public domain and appear in varios Christmas Video Collections. If anyone has seen the "Silent Night" film, please contact me.

The earliest mention I could find of these films is in the August 1944 issue of Home Movies Magazine, in which they were credited to "Song Book of the Screen of North Hollywood". It is likely that they became ADA a year later since they were also distributed by Post Pictures.



Each short features singing by a quartet called the ADA Crusaders while the words go across the screen. Clever miniatures and limited motion graphics enhance the meaning of the song. This technique was called "action-minature" and is credited to Neil McGuire (1893 - 1972) a film director and producer. McGuire and ADA produced at least 29 of these shorts for church use all distributed by Post Pictures Corporation of New York. According to the 1949 Educational Film Guide titles were: Onward Christian Soldiers, God Be With You Till We Meet Again, and In The Garden. Only the the 3 Christmas shorts seem to be available today.
Please check your church basement! Also it would be fun to try McGuire's technique of filming Hymns with miniatures, even in this age of Adobe products.

* On IMDB these Christmas shorts are dated 1950, but this is incorrect according to film bulletins and magazines.

- Most of this information is from the September 1945 issues of Film World News, pg. 267

UPDATES FOR FALL/WINTER 2017

There are a lot of great new additions to the FBSM blog. 4 new pages have been added to the blog site for the history of Bible based storytelling, to make your Christmas merrier and for the teaching and study of the Bible.

FBSM Theater
I am excited to announce a theater page were I am showing prints of rare and incredible films made by Christian filmmakers across the 20th century. These films come from the Gospel Film Archives,  and I am extremely grateful to film historians Bob Campbell and Ron Hall for sharing a digitized print of the landmark Christian drama The Great Commandment (1939) for the debut of this page.

Christmas Library 2017 
In 1994, an interesting news article revealed an all too obvious truth about media during the Christmas season. That scarcely any of the many Christmas specials on television acknowledge the birth of Christ as central to the meaning of Christmas. So with that in mind I have tried to create a log of family programming to help parents be aware of Christmas specials that focus on the birth of Christ on television, radio, home video and even free downloads from the Golden Age of Radio.

During the Christmas season there will be new blog entries on films, children's books, crafts and more to teach and inspire during this most wonderful time of year.

Apologetics & Education 
While the main focus of FBSM is creative Bible storytelling, because of the urgency of our times I've created a page specially for the study of Apologetics, Christian History and Education. This page features the best radio ministries that broadcast weekly or daily in the United States and around the world.

Bible Study
I've also created a Bible Study page with links to some of the best online resource of edification in the Word of God.

Facebook! - Family Bible Storytelling Media
This is a bold new venture for me, so the page will gradually look better.

YouTube too! - FBSM YouTube Channel



Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Updates for Fall/Winter 2017

There are a lot of great new additions to the FBSM blog. 4 new pages have been added to the blog site for the history of Bible based storytelling, to make your Christmas merrier and for the teaching and study of the Bible.

FBSM Theater
I am excited to announce a theater page were I am showing prints of rare and incredible films made by Christian filmmakers across the 20th century. These films come from the Gospel Film Archives,  and I am extremely grateful to film historians Bob Campbell and Ron Hall for sharing a digitized print of the landmark Christian drama The Great Commandment (1939) for the debut of this page.

There will also be films from the news FBSM YouTube Channel available on this page.

Christmas Library 2017 
In 1994, an interesting news article revealed an all too obvious truth about media during the Christmas season. That scarcely any of the many Christmas specials on television acknowledge the birth of Christ as central to the meaning of Christmas. So with that in mind I have tried to create a log of family programming to help parents be aware of Christmas specials that focus on the birth of Christ on television, radio, home video and even free downloads from the Golden Age of Radio.

During the Christmas season there will be new blog entries on films, children's books, crafts and more to teach and inspire during this most wonderful time of year.

Apologetics & Education 
While the main focus of FBSM is creative Bible storytelling, because of the urgency of our times I've created a page specially for the study of Apologetics, Christian History and Education. This page features the best radio ministries that broadcast weekly or daily in the United States and around the world.

I've also created a Bible Study page with links to some of the best online resource of edification in the Word of God.




Thursday, November 23, 2017

Give Thanks and Rejoice - Scripture and History for Reflection

"The First Thanksgiving" (1915), by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris (American painter, 1863-1930).
From Joyful Heart Ministries, Thanksgiving and Pilgrim Art and Artwork, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson.

Psalm 26:7 That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.

Psalm 50:14 Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:

Psalm 69:30 I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.

Psalm 95:2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

Psalm 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

Psalm 107:22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.

Psalm 116:17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.

The Mayflower Compact - November 11, 1620 (From William Bradford's handwritten history, Of Plymouth Plantation, c. 1630) http://mayflowerhistory.com/mayflower-compact/

(It is olde English, so read it with a slight Irish-Scottish accent and the spellings will become more clear). One of may historical documents that I never actually read while attending school.

In ye name of God Amen· We whose names are vnderwriten, 
the loyall subjects of our dread soueraigne Lord King James 
by ye grace of God, of great Britaine, franc, & Ireland king, 
defender of ye faith, &c
Haueing vndertaken, for ye glorie of God, and aduancemente 
of ye christian ^faith and honour of our king & countrie, a voyage to 
plant ye first colonie in ye Northerne parts of Virginia· doe 
by these presents solemnly & mutualy in ye presence of God, and 
one of another, couenant, & combine our selues togeather into a 
ciuill body politick; for ye our better ordering, & preseruation & fur=
therance of ye ends aforesaid; and by vertue hearof, to enacte, 
constitute, and frame shuch just & equall lawes, ordinances, 
Acts, constitutions, & offices, from time to time, as shall be thought 
most meete & conuenient for ye generall good of ye colonie:  vnto 
which we promise all due submission and obedience.  In witnes 
wherof we haue herevnder subscribed our names at Cap=
Codd ye ·11· of Nouember, in ye year of ye raigne of our soueraigne 
Lord king James of England, france, & Ireland ye eighteenth 
and of Scotland ye fiftie fourth. Ano: Dom ·1620·|

Signers
John Carver
William Bradford
Edward Winslow
William Brewster
Isaac Allerton
Myles Standish
John Alden
Samuel Fuller
Christopher Martin
William Mullins
William White
Richard Warren
John Howland
Stephen Hopkins
Edward Tilley
John Tilley
Francis Cooke
Thomas Rogers
Thomas Tinker
John Rigsdale
Edward Fuller
John Turner
Francis Eaton
James Chilton
John Crackstone
John Billington
Moses Fletcher
John Goodman
Degory Priest
Thomas Williams
Gilbert Winslow
Edmund Margesson
Peter Browne
Richard Britteridge
George Soule
Richard Clarke
Richard Gardiner
John Allerton
Thomas English
Edward Doty

Edward Leister

"Thanks Be Unto God" by Jack Hamm - From the Grace Bible Fellowship Collection
http://www.gbfc-tx.org/Pages/Jack%20Hamm.html

I have already posted this image, but it perfectly fits the day. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!!!

- James R. Stewart Jr.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Operation Christmas Child 2017


OCC National Collection Week



















It has been nearly 3 months since I posted a new article about Bible media history, and believe me there is A LOT MORE to come. For now I wanted to highlight a ministry that is very special to my wife and I as we approach the Christmas Season.

"Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, works with local Christians in more than 100 countries to deliver gift-filled shoeboxes to children in need. The Greatest Journey is our 12-lesson follow-up discipleship course for children who have received shoebox gifts".

My wife and I packed our first shoebox last fall and have looked forward to doing it again ever since. We are excited about the 5 boxes we are sending overseas, knowing they can bring joy and hope to a small child and lead them to Christ.



National Collection Week is coming up fast and I want to encourage you to find a local packing center so you can touch the life of a child!

The following images are from the Operation Christmas Child website.

Shoebox Distribution in Moldova 

Shoebox Distribution in Zambia 

By Camel in Namibia 

Collection Center 



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Classic Television: "Great Stories - Bible Stories"

Great Stories - Bible Stories [a.k.a. Great Bible Stories, Children's Heroes of The Bible] 

Children's animated series
Syndicated: 1969 - ????
Production:  John Rydgren, (writer); Betty Garth, (executive producer);
Paul Ballentyne, Robert Pastene, Niki Flacks, John Rydgren, John Lewin, Dale Waddell, Donald West, (voices);

Title Card for Great Stories - Bible Stories.
"Great Stories
Bible Stories
Stories that are true
They tell of God and his love for us
And his power too"

This was a series of 65 four and a half minute cartoons underwritten by the American Lutheran Church Department of TV/Radio/Films for $500,000. They were released in cooperation with the Broadcasting and Film Commission of the National Council of Churches. These cartoons were offered to TV stations for free, provided that they air them as part of a weekday series for children.

Title Card of "The Story of Moses"

Moses and his staff.

Moses and the Burning Bush
The shows were created by Cameo Productions, a Chicago based producer of TV and educational films that formed in 1962. Production on the series was announced as early as 1965, was promoted for distribution in 1967, but not copyrighted until 1969.

The opening title reads "Great Stories - Bible Stories" (also its copyright title) but in the end credits it is announced as "Great Bible Stories"
.
The timing for a color animated Bible series for children was very good. 1966 was the year that all networks began broadcasting in color, and the late 1960s is still famous for the domination of animation in children's programming. The limited animation is quite good for a 1960s series depicting realistic looking human characters and difficult visuals like massive armies, crowds, and the parting of the Red Sea. The voice work is also good and provided by seasoned actors. I found myself enjoy "The Story of Moses", "The Story of Jesus" and "Story of The Apostles" as told in multiple short episodes.

End credits logo for Cameo Productions, Inc., Chicago Ill.


The episodes were written by John Rydgren (1932 - 1968), the president of the ALC from 1962 to 1968, more famous for his unconventional Lutheran radio programs.

This series continues to entertain and teach after more than 40 years. Many episodes of Great Bible Stories were released on VHS in the 1980's and 1990's & more recently on streaming media and DVD under the title "Children's Heroes of The Bible". The DVD was given a "Faith Friendly All Ages" rating by the Dove Foundation. 

Sources & Citations
Information in this post is cited from various issues of Broadcasting magazine, the New York Times, other media magazines and the Catalog of Copyright Entries. Contact the author or leave a comment for a complete bibliography.