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Rumors of Angels Synopsis

We fade into a starry universe. As a solo trumpet begins we slowly zoom in on planet Earth to a Middle Eastern mountaintop and discover the angel Gabriel playing his horn to the sky. (PROLOGUE). The scene then shifts to Persia where three magi confront a "most unusual, most incredible, MOST MAGNIFICENT STAR." They make plans to journey to Judea to see if the birth of the Jewish Messiah is imminent.

About a year later in the tiny Galilean village of Nazareth, young carpenter Joseph walks Mary home from the synagogue. (LOVE GROWS) Joseph mentions his father will be speaking to Mary's father about their being married.

As the rooster crows with the sunrise Mary is having a recurring dream. (ARISE, MY LOVE) Later at the village market place she has a hard time concentrating on her shopping list. Others also notice. (MARKET/SOMETHING DIFFERENT) Her puzzled mother, Hannah, has noticed changes in the girl and describes them to village women on the way to the well. They offer their "diagnosis:" SHE'S IN LOVE. Their conversation is interrupted by the village Rabbi (RABBI'S BLESSING) who brings news that young Joseph and his father have been to see him concerning Mary's engagement to Joseph.

In his carpenter shop on the edge of Nazareth, Joseph expresses his feelings for MARY. Collecting firewood nearby, Mary appears and they confirm their love in BLESS THIS LOVE. At Mary's home, her parents, (Hannah and Samuel,) confess that her engagement to Joseph is a bittersweet experience for them (OUR DAUGHTER). Framed by a glorious sunset, the synagogue is made ready for the betrothal of Mary and Joseph, and the ceremony takes place. (BETROTHAL, WHITHER THOU GO-EST) The rabbi then leads all outside to a festive setting. (WATCH OVER US)

Meanwhile en route to Jerusalem the three Magi are experiencing a harsh and soul-searching MAGI JOURNEY. Not only are the conditions bleak but they have continuous doubts about this journey.

On the afternoon of Passover, Mary collects apples and almonds for the evening's ceremonial supper and contemplates her coming marriage to Joseph, (WILL I BE A GOOD WIFE?) She is approached by the angel Gabriel (THE ANNUNCIATION) who has very disturbing news which she is not able to comprehend nor immediately accept. Confused and frightened she hurries home. The Passover ceremony takes on new meaning as she recites the ago-old ceremonial question: "Father, why is this night different from all other nights?"

Mary waits about three months until she is certain Gabriel's message is coming true. She then leaves her confused parents and a brooding Joseph to visit her Aunt Elizabeth, in the Judean hills near Jerusalem. Elizabeth, far beyond her childbearing years, is also "expecting." Joseph does not take the news of Mary's "condition" well. (SHOULD I BELIEVE HER?) Elizabeth welcomes her with open arms and helps her accept the "situation." (GREETING/THE WAYS OF GOD)

A sextet expresses how six characters are reacting to this miraculous situation. (WHAT WILL MARY DO?/MAGNIFICAT) By the end of the number Gabriel has spoken to Joseph and the couple are reconciled. The rabbi can hardly contain his joy (THERE WILL BE A MARRIAGE!) Hannah and Samuel express paternal feelings on their daughter's wedding day. (HOW CAN I?)

The scene now shifts to the Bethlehem inn where weary, "slap-happy" travelers have come for the enrollment ordered by Augustus Caesar. (NO ROOM IN BETHLEHEM) Outside the town shepherds watch their revelry. (SHEPHERD'S SONG) Gabriel appears among them and, with a chorus of angels and a cherub band, brings them the good news of that night. (GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST) Then the shepherds are off to Bethlehem to discover what has happened.

At King Herod's court in Jerusalem the mood is ugly as the city streets are full of rumors about a coming Messiah. (JERUSALEM) With the appearance of the magi (MAGI MARCH) the members of Herod's court are curious and upset. (WHAT NEW KING?) The possibility of a rival for his throne really puts Herod into a foul mood. (HEROD, KING OF THE JEWS) Secretly, he orders all male babes of Bethlehem up to two years of age destroyed.

Meanwhile, at a stable in Bethlehem, Mary has given birth to the baby Jesus. The shepherds have come to visit and, as a puzzled Joseph greets them, Mary enjoys a moment alone with the babe. (LULLABYE) Her quiet moment is interrupted by the arrival of the magi (MAGI MARCH REDUX). They offer their gifts and warn Joseph of Herod's conspiracy. As the magi leave to return to their country, by-passing Jerusalem, Joseph gathers his little family and scant belongings. As Gabriel follows at a watchful distance, the family sets out for Egypt-guided by the star- as the chorus sings a final reprise of "WHITHER THOU GO-EST."

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