There are a number of unique characteristics in the Church’s new video “The Christ Child,” which was released by the Church on November 23 as part of the Light the World campaign.
This year, John Foss of Kaleidoscope Pictures, who wrote and directed the film, said in a Church News article that the goal was to portray the Nativity story as not just a story, but as a real event. From consulting with historians and biblical scholars to having the entire dialogue spoken in Aramaic without subtitles, there are a number of conscious decisions that made the video stand apart from previous years.
But one of the most memorable moments of the film is one that wasn’t planned out in advance.
In the video, Mary wraps her newborn son in swaddling clothes and Joseph cradles the baby’s head tenderly before sitting back as his wife sings a soft lullaby to their child.
View this post on Instagram Did you know that Mary’s lullaby was improvised by the actress? . The creative team behind The Christ Child was in the process of filming when one of the film’s biblical consultants mentioned that Mary was well-versed in the Bible and likely had a very real understanding of her role as the Mother of God. . In Luke 1, Mary visits her relative Elizabeth after speaking with the angel Gabriel about bearing the Christ child. During her visit, Mary sings scriptures of heavenly praise (taken from 1 Samuel 2) to Elizabeth. . “So we went, ‘Okay,’” executive producer Tom Pratt said. “She’s singing scriptures to Elizabeth. Let’s have her sing to baby Jesus.” . Mary would have been most likely to sing a Psalm in Hebrew, the film’s language consultant said (the rest of the film is in Aramaic). So the crew flipped through the scriptures and settled on Psalm 27:1, chosen because of its references to light. . They passed this idea on to Brooklyn McDaris, the actress who plays Mary, along with a few samples of the type of music that may have been popular during Jesus’s time. She improvised the lullaby’s melody during filming the very next day. . “Immediately after we heard that lullaby, we were all just looking around at each other. The way that we portrayed the shepherds looking stunned after the angels [visited]? That was us,” said supervising producer Klane Harding. . Brooklyn’s performance moved everyone on set. When it came time to compose the score, crew members suggested that Mary’s lullaby could become a recurring musical theme throughout the film. The music producer and composer loved the idea. . “The music became kind of its own character in this,” Harding said, “helping us feel the emotional arc of Joseph and Mary that we see throughout the entirety of the film.” #TheChristChild #LightTheWorld #ComeUntoChrist #behindthescenes A post shared by ComeUntoChrist.org (@comeuntochrist) on Dec 6, 2019 at 1:05pm PST
Biblical consultants who helped with the creation of the film advised that Mary would have been well versed in scripture and would have understood her role as the Mother of God, the Instagram post reads. Taking into account that she sang songs of praise upon meeting her cousin Elizabeth in Luke 1, it was decided that Mary should likewise sing to her newborn son in the film.
As Mary would most likely sing a psalm in Hebrew, the film crew looked through the scriptures and decided the text to Mary’s lullaby would come from Psalm 27:1, which references light. After passing on the idea and a few melodies that may have been popular at the time to McDaris, the actress improvised a version of the lullaby the next day.
“Immediately after we heard that lullaby, we were all just looking around at each other,” said supervising producer Klane Harding. “The way that we portrayed the shepherds looking stunned after the angels [visited]? That was us.”
The melody was so moving, the crew instantly fell in love with it and it became a musical theme throughout the film.
“The music became kind of its own character in this,” said Harding, “helping us feel the motional arc of Joseph and Mary that we see throughout the entirety of the film.”
Watch the full video of “The Christ Child” below.