The INNKEEPER (a dramatic Christmas ballad)

Composed and copyrighted 2006 by Ken Wear, Marietta, Ga.

The keeper of that inn in Bethlehem had no extra room to offer; his inn was full and he could not ask another guest to give up his room. Rather than turn Joseph and Mary away, he did the best he could to provide shelter to a woman about to give birth. Rather than defame him, as preachers have done since I was a child, I wrote this song to honor the innkeeper as a thoughtful, caring man, just as we honor Joseph for providing for a woman pregnant with a child not his own.

I (or my heirs) may be contacted by e-mail by clicking here. This song is my gift to those who celebrate Christmas. You may make a single copy for your personal use or copies to aid your committee in selecting music. I had sought a music publisher to make The Innkeeper available in quantities (See note below). Anyone using the song for monetary gain should buy sheet music; moreover, it would make an excellent keepsake.

There is such competition for music publishers' attention that I have reworked the presentation for use by a choir or chorus and prepared cover art. I had sought a publisher but printed the initial version -- discarded due to changes. Should anyone wish to purchase copies I will have a second printing on heavy stock, folded to 8-1/2x11, stapled and punched for a 3-ring binder, $3 each plus $5 P&H (or international postage) per order
A revised version is posted on this web site; it now includes a dialogue between the Innkeeper and Joseph; hopefully the mistakes are few in number. (My apologies; I have little musical training and have tried to remove all discord; you may alter accompaniment and/or vocals so long as you retain the core presentation. For convenience you may download the song as a single file (without cover art) or segments (for dial up) that together present the complete song (five files); details appear after the poem (below). Printed music will feature cover art plus score and lyrics on facing pages where that lends to ease of use.)

Since you are reading this on line, I assume the e-mail contact above will suffice for now.

The song is quite versatile and lends to expansion into Christmas presentations of various length or can even be the backbone of an entire Christmas program. In my mind's ear I can hear, before the second verse, a violin solo or a boy soprano rendering Silent Night. A reading of the Christmas story may be interspersed. Or, if you incorporate a manger, shepherds and wise men may visit the stable during the third verse and perhaps end their visit before "Recall the dream" of that verse by singing Angels We Have Heard On High or other appropriate songs. The Drummer Boy would be appropriate after departure of the shepherds. Turn your imagination loose to incorporate The Innkeeper into your Christmas program; the only limitation I would suggest is correlating the time sequence of events in the program with the time sequence as events unfolded during that first Christmas season.

I will welcome a description of how you fitted the song into your Christmas program, and the audience response, and I wish to add your comment for what value it may have to others. However, since my efforts at creating a blog that is open for direct submissions were not successful, I will add comments sent to me via e-mail; click here. Comments that have been added may be accessed by clicking here.

If you wish to go to the index of this web site, click here.

As the years unfold, I hope there will always be a verbal introduction, perhaps pointing out that the story line was inspired by the Biblical Christmas story and suggesting the audience visualize the events of the story as seen through the eyes of the kindly businessman, "The Innkeeper."

The Innkeeper

bassThis tax is good for my business
My inn is full; they pay and sleep and go
-----Your wife looks full; tenorThe child is due bassWe must find room
bassThe night is chill, but my stable's warm tenorMay God be praised
bassIs this a dream?


Angellic music fills the air with heavenly song and sounds that stir the soul
Glory hallelujah, Christ is born today
Born to call the world to God's desire
Glory hallelujah, Join our happy song
Celebrate the birth of Christ the King
With peace on Earth good will to men.
[3d & 4th verses, chorus should be past tense: "Angellic music filled the air . . ."]

2d verse

bassA boy is born in my stable
tenorWe'll stay a while; his mother can't be moved
bassPraise be to God; for my inn is blest tenorThe infant sleeps
In His manger bed wrapped in swaddling clothes bassMay heav'n be praised
bassWas that a dream?

3d verse

all menThe star, it led to the stable
The rich, the poor, come see what God has wrought
The shepherds came and the wise men too with gifts of gold,
frankincense and myrhh to show their joy at God's great gift
Recall the dream.

added verse

all voicesThis tale, it has no ending
Down through the years we celebrate Christ's birth.
We go to church and we swap our gifts; we share the news
That God is love, that Jesus came to bless mankind.
Thank God for dreams.

As a historical note, the original verses 1 and 2 are available by clicking here.

Music is linked in a single pdf file or as five pdf files. Click on description and, to proceed after examination or printing, use your BACK button and then click the next. They are:
Complete (without cover art) in a single file
Introduction and first verse
Verse 2
Verse 3
Verse 4
Cover art if you wish to use it.
Suggestions to the director or planner appear at the end of this document.

This ballad satisfies a long-felt need on my part to be fair to the innkeeper, who did the best he could with an over-booked inn and a pregnant woman nearing delivery.

The music and song have evolved. It was first sung in the fall of 2006 at assisted living homes and churches by the Smyrna Community Chorus as part of their fall choral presentation. At the time there was neither harmony nor accompaniment. In '07 I added the 4th verse, which was not included in my application for copyright registration. And, in the fall, because of traffic at my web site, I underook to generate harmony (which, in the chorus, is a medody in its on right) and accompaniment. In the spring of '08, when I realized competition for the attention of music publishers was so keen, I asked my artist to design cover art and asked a printer to prepare copies for sale in quantity. But I had not been content with what seemed a 'choppiness' in the verses and in the summer changed two verses to a dialogue between the Innkeeper and Joseph.

It is my expectation that The Innkeeper will become a standard of the Christmas season. The secularization of the season is profane, little short of blasphemy; hopefully music such as this will help stem the tide and restore Christmas as a religious festival.

In gratitude for their courage in including an unknown song in their seasonal concert, it is my express wish that the Smyrna Community Chorus, Smyrna, GA, be permitted in perpetuity to perform this song at their discretion without payment of royalties or other fees so long as they do not alter it significantly. My hope is that they will benefit through recruitment of members.

Possible introduction: "The keeper of that inn in Bethlehem has been defamed by preachers for generations. But the tax had forced many citizens to travel to the place of their family’s origin, so there was unaccustomed demand for lodging. The innkeeper had no extra room to offer; his inn was full and it would have been difficult to ask another guest to give up his room. Rather than turn Mary and Joseph away he did the best he could to provide shelter to a woman about to give birth. This song honors the innkeeper as a thoughtful, caring man, just as we honor Joseph for providing for a woman pregnant with a child not his own.

"Mary gave birth. In those days a woman needed to avoid excessive movement until she healed. So Mary and the infant remained in the shelter for some days in the watch care of the innkeeper, and during that time shepherds visited the humble setting for the birth of the Christ child. And wise men came with their gifts.

"This season we celebrate the life that entered the world in that humble setting and who, during His life, contributed so much to our world."

Comments to the music director: A brief introduction may be appropriate, perhaps as above.

To add an element of drama to your rendition of The Innkeeper:
1) Percussion may commence hoof beats 4-6 measures before the pianist begins.
2) While the introduction is played, the Innkeeper may stand before some form of desk and quietly, with quill in hand, attend to his record keeping. (I had visualized a music stand, horizontal about waist height and turned with lip toward the audience.) Then, he would look up to sing his first two lines and return to his record keeping while the pianist played the next three measures.
3) He would look up to greet Joseph. “Your wife looks full." Joseph responds. Then, with hand on chin in a thinking pose, “We must find room.” Piano run. Hand up as with inspiration: “The night is chill but my stable's warm.” Then, with hands to tilted chin to suggest sleep: “God rest you well.” Piano. Then “Is this a dream?”
4) After the chorus, the Innkeeper (2d verse) would address the audience with pride and awe, but Joseph speaks to the air; then the Innkeeper (still in awe) "May heavn'n be praised." 5) All men or all voices may sing the 3rd (and 4th) verses.

If the presentation is expanded to include a manger scene, the manger with Mary and babe would remain unlighted until part way through the first rendition of the chorus. Shepherds and wise men may appear during the third verse (hoof beats optional) and sing selected songs (with or without choral support), followed by music (choral or congregational) as seems appropriate to plans for the occasion, including a sermon, lecture, recitation, reading, . . ., if . . . If integrated with reading of the Biblical Christmas story, then Luke 2:1-5 may precede the ballad, 2:6-7 before the 2nd verse, 2:8-16 and Matthew 2:1-2 before the 3rd verse. Evidently the 4th verse would then end the program.

To heighten the drama, since the harmony in the ‘all voices’ part of chorus is a melody in its own right, the chorus may be sung with varying loudness on the part of the different voices. As, 1st time women louder than men, 2nd time men louder than women, or altos paired with bases in loudness, etc.


The original verses 1 and 2 are given here (original in 3 flats; revised to key of C; melody unchanged):
This tax is good for my business
My inn is full; they pay and sleep and go
-----Your wife looks full; the night is chill; we must find room
My sheep aren't shown; the stable's warm; God rest you well
Is this a dream?

A boy is born in my stable
Pray stay a while; his mother can't be moved
-----We must find clothes; his manger's dry; you must take food
My inn is blessed; your work will pay; God watch o'er all
Was that a dream?

As of today, 11-13-08, no comments have been received although a teacher in Slovakia asked for copies; I referred her to this page with its links. There have been hundreds of visits to this web page; there is interest (and undoubtedly performances) even though no one has revealed how he used the music or audience response.
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