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Choral reading of John 20:1-18

A script, using 8 voices, to tell aloud John’s resurrection account

by Ken Sehested
Introduction: Choral readings (this one for eight voices) are an effective way to enrich and dramatize the hearing of biblical texts in worship. See preparation instructions at bottom.

Early,  [1]

on the first day of the week,  [1, 2]

while it was still dark,  [1, 2, 3]

still dark,  [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]

still dark,  [ALL]

Mary Magdalene came to the tomb  [3]

and saw that the stone had been removed  from the tomb. [6, 7, 8]

So she ran, [8]

she ran,  [1, 2, 3, 4]

she ran,  [ALL]

and went to Simon Peter   [8]

and the other disciple,  [7]

the one whom Jesus loved,  [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

and said to them,  [7]

“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb,  [ALL]

“and we do not know  [1, 2, 3]

“where they have laid him.”  [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]

Then Peter  [2]

and the other disciple  [1, 2, 3]

set out  [4, 5, 6, 7, 8]

and went toward the tomb.  [2]

The two were running together,  [4]

but the other disciple outran Peter   [6, 7, 8]

and reached the tomb first.  [1, 2, 3]

He bent down to look in   [2]

and saw the linen wrappings lying there,  [6, 7, 8]

lying there,  [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

lying there,  [ALL]

and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head,  [1, 2]

not lying with the linen wrappings  [3, 4]

but rolled up in a place by itself.  [5, 6, 7, 8]

Then the other disciple,  [1]

who reach the tomb first,  [2, 3]

also went in,  [4, 5, 6]

and he saw,  [1, 2, 3]

he saw,  [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]

he saw,  [ALL]

and he believed;  [7]

for as yet they did not understand the scripture,  [8]

that Jesus must rise from the dead.  [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

Then the disciples returned to their homes.  [6]

But Mary stood weeping,  [1, 2]

weeping,  [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

weeping,  [ALL]

outside the tomb;  [2]

and she saw two angels in white,  [1, 2]

sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying,  [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

one at the head  [7]

and the other at the feet.  [7, 8]

They said to her,  [4]

“Woman,  [1, 2,]

“Woman,  [1, 2, 3]

“Woman,  [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

“why are you weeping?”  [ALL]

She said to them,  [1]

“They have taken away my Lord,  [7, 8]

and I do not know where they have laid him.”  [1, 6, 7, 8]

When she had said this,  [6]

she turned around,  [6, 7, 8]

turned around,  [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

turned around,  [ALL]

and saw Jesus standing there,  [4]

but she did not know that it was Jesus.  [6]

Jesus said to her,  [3]

“Woman,”  [1, 2, 3]

“Woman,  [2, 3, 4, 5, 6]

“Woman,  [ALL]

“why are you weeping?  [3]

“Whom are you looking for?”  [1, 2, 3]

Supposing him to be the gardener,  [7]

she said to him,  [6, 7, 8]

“Sir,  [7]

“if you have carried him away,  [4, 5]

“tell me where you have laid him,  [1, 6, 7, 8]

“and I will take him away.”  [7]

Jesus said to her,  [2]

“Mary!  [1, 2, 3]

“Mary!  [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]

“Mary!”  [ALL]

She turned  [2]

and said to him in Hebrew,  [2, 3]

“Rabbouni!”  [ALL]

(which means teacher).  [2]

Jesus said to her,  [4]

“Do not hold on to me,  [4, 5]

“because I have not yet ascended to the Abba.  [3, 4, 5]

“But go to my disciples  [4]

“and say to them,  [3, 4, 5]

‘I am ascending to my Abba [2, 3, 4, 5]

‘and your Abba,  [2]

‘to my God  [2, 3, 4, 5]

‘and to your God.’”  [ALL]

Mary Magdalene went  [1]

and announced to the disciples,  [4, 5]

“I have seen the Lord;  [1, 2, 3]

“I have seen the Lord,  [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

“I have seen the Lord,”  [ALL]

and she told them all that Jesus has said to her.  [1]

#  #  #

Instructions

For the leader

      •Print a copy for each reader, and number them. Then use a highlighter for each script, according to that readers’ lines (per the numbers following each line).

      •Put a check mark at the bottom of the page if that reader has a line coming first on the subsequent page, to alert them.

      •You can reduce or increase the number of voices—adjust the numbering of each line as appropriate.

      •To begin the first practice, read the first dozen or so lines for the group, to give them a sense of the pace.

      •It’s important that the readers practice this together several times to synchronize the rhythm.

For the readers

      •Speak up and out!—a bit more loudly, and a bit more slowly, than your normal conversational volume and pace.

      •Enunciate each word.

      •Aim your voice so that the person sitting farthest from you can hear and understand.

     •Pause a half-beat at the commas, a full beat at the periods.

©Ken Sehested @ prayerandpolitiks.org