Hark the Heralds
An important announcement
by Janice Ross
Suitable for Key Stage 3
To consider how important announcements are made.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Hark the Heralds) and the means to display them.
- Have available the following YouTube videos (you only need the audio) and the means to play them during the assembly:
- ‘Royal trumpet fanfare as the Queen and her family arrive at Westminster Hall for lunch’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eBYUOKQOnE (1.38 minutes long)
- ‘Hark the herald angels sing’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCt1s44cfMM (3.48 minutes long)
- Show Slide 1.
Ask the students who they think these people are. You may wish to listen to suggestions.
Explain that these people are royal heralds.
- Show Slide 2.
Tell the students that in 2019, at the age of 28, this man, whose name is Mark Scott, became the youngest royal herald. The average age of his colleagues was 57.
Explain that a herald is an official who is employed to oversee important royal and state occasions. Historically, heralds made important announcements and carried official messages such as those for the king or queen, or between opposing armies. Nowadays, heralds are more involved in designing coats of arms and studying genealogies.
- Show Slide 3.
This is the coat of arms for the United Kingdom. Point out that the words ‘Dieu et mon droit’ mean ‘God and my right’, which implies that the monarch has a divine right to rule.
- Explain that sometimes, heralds make an announcement using music.
Play the YouTube video ‘Royal trumpet fanfare as the Queen and her family arrive at Westminster Hall for lunch’ (1.38 minutes long).
Point out that this fanfare uses several instruments. It is announcing the arrival of the Queen and her family.
- Explain that, as we move towards Christmas, it is important to remember the story behind it – the real meaning of Christmas. Heralds featured in this story too, but they were called angels.
In the Christmas story, the first person to be visited by a herald angel was Mary. The angel told Mary that she was going to have a baby. He would be God’s son and she was to name him Jesus.
The second person to be visited by a herald angel was Joseph, Mary’s fiancé. The angel explained to Joseph that Mary’s baby was a very special child, God’s son, and that God wanted Joseph to care for Jesus as his earthly father.
The third time herald angels featured in the Christmas story was when a whole host of them visited some shepherds in the fields.
- Show Slide 4.
Explain that this painting is called Angels Appearing before the Shepherds. It was painted by the American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner in around 1910.
Show Slide 5.
- Remind the students that the angels brought great news! When the shepherds heard the good news, they immediately hurried to Bethlehem to see the baby.
- Ask the students to listen carefully to the words of the Christmas carol ‘Hark the herald angels sing’. Explain that it is a well-known carol that is often heard at Christmas.
Play the YouTube video ‘Hark the herald angels sing’ (3.48 minutes long).
Optional: you may wish to invite the students to join in.
Point out that, in some ways, we too celebrate the great announcement of Jesus’ birth with a fanfare. Church bells ring out on Christmas Day, Christmas carols are played by bands and we have parties to celebrate with music and laughter.
Time for reflection
Explain that it can be easy to become so involved in the excitement of Christmas that we forget the reason why it happens: to celebrate the birth of Jesus. This Christmas, let’s remember that important announcement: that God had sent his son, Jesus, to be our saviour and friend.
Thank you for the fun and excitement of Christmas.
Thank you that people around the world will be celebrating the birth of Jesus.
Please help us all to remember the real meaning of Christmas.
‘Hark the herald angels sing’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCt1s44cfMM (3.48 minutes long)