Christmas Musical Spotlight: Back to the Manger

The next new Christmas musical in the spotlight is “Back to the Manger.”  As you can imagine from the title of this 45-minute musical, time travel plays a part in the story.  In the program, a group of kids are attending a caroling outreach at church when they happen upon something the church janitor has been working on…a time machine.  Our heroes end up bouncing around in time, landing at Christmas Eve in various different eras.  The characters visit the 40’s, 50’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and the songs reflect the styles of music popular during those time periods.  They also visit the very first Christmas.

This musical, like most, was written with a children’s choir in mind, but it has a lot of great possibilities for puppets.  The variety of musical styles used creates a lot of chances for unique puppets, props and choreography.

There are nine songs: “Back to the Manger,” “Can You Hear the Bells with Angels we Have Heard on High,” “Let Us Love,” “Come Let Us Adore Him with O Come, All Ye Faithful and Away in a Manger,” Ring, Ring-a-ling,” “Song of the Sheep and the Goats,” “Peace on Earth with I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” “Ring the Bells,” and “Back to the Manger (Reprise)”

Click the link below to listen to clips from “Back to the Manger” at One Way Street’s website.


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18 Responses to “Christmas Musical Spotlight: Back to the Manger”

  1. Staci Says:

    How many speaking and solo parts are there? What characters are there, as well?

  2. onewayst Says:

    The characters are:
    Grandma Betty
    Young Betty
    Henry Olson (adult janitor)
    Young Henry Olson
    Jackson & Norman (2 boys)
    Jasmine & Gloria (2 girls)
    And then a few other small parts and non speaking roles

    So far this has been the most popular of the new Christmas programs that are available.

  3. Shawn Says:

    Any idea if and where there is clip art available for churches offering this production to add to the bulletin?

    • onewayst Says:

      Many of the publishers of these productions offer promotional materials such as programs and posters. If these resources are available then we usually have them listed with the other items for that program at If such is the case then you probably won’t find clip-art for the program.

      This program, however, does not seem to have promotional items available that I can see. There is a “digital teachers resource” which may some things that could work for promotional…it doesn’t list that in the description, but that’s probably the best bet.

  4. Sally Says:

    Is there lyrics to the songs? Can i have them?

  5. kait Says:

    hey im young and i found this website and i decided to try i out for young betty i put my name on the tryout sheet so please pray for me that i get it im so excited and im trusting God to help me if you can please send young betty’s lines to me please please and thank you

    • onewayst Says:

      We wish you the best in your tryout. Please understand that we cannot send you the lines. We are not the publisher of this material, we are a resource provider. To send you the lines would be an infringement of the publisher’s copyright. You are welcome to purchase a copy of the songbook, which would have the lines you seek, at

  6. kait Says:

    well thank you for telling me that so now i tried out for grandma betty and young betty im really excited so pray for me thanks

  7. kait Says:

    ive been looking on onewaystreet before you even told me about it and it was the best website i learned all of the songs for it and i already learned a part from it thanks so much now i can remember the name of the helpful site i added it to my favorites so thanks very much

  8. Shannon Nichols Says:

    In the setting at the beginning in 2010, Henry Olson is a janitor. When we return to 2010 at the end, he is the pastor. Help me here? What did I miss.

  9. Jennifer Says:

    I’m not sure, but it could be because Jackson made an influence in his life when he was little, so he decided to become a pastor. I was confused too, but that is my best guess.

    • Jessie Says:

      Hey there-
      we didn’t like the idea the janitor to pastor shift- thought maybe it shed negative light on the janitor and thought this inappropraite. We are thinking about doing this musical and thinking about making Hank be an old, grumpy man involved in the outreach that Jackson attends and when they transport back- having him be the pastor. The whole idea is that Hank’s life was changed once he saw and experienced God’s gift- Jesus. When he gave his life to Jesus he changed.

  10. Cheri Says:

    Is there any site to download or stream (legally & paid of course) the musical? My daughter’s school is doing it and we want to know the parts so she can audition. I can’t wait for a DVD to ship.

    • onewayst Says:

      To my knowledge there is no place you can download this material. Since the publishers often sell bulk packs of the CD’s, the likelihood that they would allow people to download their material is slim.

      Rather than ordering a DVD, I would suggest purchasing the preview pack…they include a songbook and listening CD for the program, which should be more than enough to get you started rehearsing, and they usually cost about $12 or less.

  11. Beth Says:

    Our church is preforming this for Christmas. My granddaughter is going to be singing. It would help me to teach her the songs if I had the words. Is there anyway to get them without buying the book. Please let me know.

  12. Lauren Says:

    This is a great program. The songs are great. The songs let people of all ages enjoy. The songs are from different time periods. There is rap, hip-hop, classical, you name it! I love this program. The story line is very touching. Especially the part about Mr. Olsen. Give it 5 plus stars

  13. Christy Semsen Says:

    Hey- stumbled across this thread- glad you guys are able to use this! In answer to questions on Henry being a janitor at the beginning and a pastor at the end:
    “Back to the Manger” makes a couple of nods to the movie–Back to the Future.
    At the end of Back to the Future–once Marty gets back to his family in 1985–and his dad, George McFly punched out Biff instead of being bullied by Biff forever–EVERYTHING WAS DIFFERENT. George McFly was a successful author, Marty’s mom and dad seemed happier, and Marty’s brother and sister were better educated and stuff like that…implying that if you change something in the past it alters the future (my inner sci-fi nerd is coming out here) and in Marty’s case-it was altered for the better.

    SO–in Back to the MANGER, we took an unhappy, greedy man, who happened to have a job at the church as a janitor-grabbed him as the YOUNG Hank Olson in the 40s–and took him back in time to see the birth of Jesus and then back to his time period in the 40s before going back to present day. In Hank’s case, his life was altered like Marty’s. So we get back to present day and instead of the greedy janitor, Hank has dedicated his life to serving Christ as a pastor.

    The implied meaning here (and I apologize if it’s not all that clear in the play) is this:

    Once you see the face of Christ, you’re never the same. So Hank’s witnessing of the birth of Christ changed his life…

    So Hank IS the pastor, and has been for (35? 45? years? I can’t remember off hand) and we celebrate his retirement upon our return–in an ALTERED FUTURE!!!! You may want to emphasize the last page of dialouge, pg. 110, when Pastor Olson gives his final speech “I was one of the recipients of the blessings of this outreach when I was just a little boy, and it changed my life…..Once you go back to the manger and recognize God’s greatest gift, you are never the same.” The intended change is definitely a heart change, from greedy and unhappy to serving Christ. No intention to exalt the profession of a pastor over the janitor, which is why I made him unhappy and greedy etc, so he could become a Christian- making him the pastor of the outreach that helped to change his life was just a fun “twist”. I agree that you could make him a greedy MAN at the beginning, I just made him work at the church so he could make the time machine out of all the fun discarded items at the church over the years 🙂 Good luck- feel free to email me with any questions if I can help at all…

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