Category Archives: The Jesus Story

The story behind The Jesus Story

I began writing songs in the early 1970s, soon after I was ordained as a Church of England minister, as an expression of my faith.

My first appointment was to be curate in Eastwood parish.  This was a spiritually uplifting time, and in the spring and summer of 1972 I was inspired by God to write a number of songs.  One of them was The Sea of Galilee. I found myself playing on my guitar two chords, and was fascinated with them. As I played them over and over again, they suggested the sea.  Composing a song about Jesus’s Stilling of the Storm just followed on naturally.  This photo of The Sea of Galilee was taken by Sylvia as part of  her pre-ordination  training in 2008.

Galilee boat

In 1973, I became Youth Adviser for The Church Missionary Society (now The Church Mission Society) and was based at the Headquarters in Waterloo Road, London. The setting of The Beatitudes was composed during a group trip to Taize, a monastic community in the south of France which attracts young people from all over the world.  The community emphasises both social action and personal holiness, a combination we find in these words of Jesus.  Originally set to the New English Bible version, the current translation is now largely my own attempt to convey the meaning of the original.

Dayspring was written in 1977 for a song competition connected with a big youth event at St David’s in Wales.  I didn’t win, but the song has remained a favourite, and has often been sung in parishes I have served.

sunset gallilee

Whilst we were at the Church of St Matthew and St Luke, Darlington, I recorded all the songs I had written up to that point with the help of Simeon Hope. Some of the songs were sung in aid of a Charity. In 2008, the songs were kindly transferred from cassette to CD by Antoine Robinson.

The idea of collecting together songs I had written about the Life of Jesus came towards the end of 2010. Soon afterwards I had a dream in which someone was singing a pop song. When I woke up, I got my guitar and played the tune I had heard in my dream. I changed the words to Hosanna, as I needed a song to cover Palm Sunday!

In March 2011, I joined forces with the kids from the local Primary School in Aldbrough, East Yorkshire, one of the parishes where Sylvia was serving as minister. I was retired by this time, but helping in the Benefice. We made a CD, recorded in Aldbrough Church, which had 18 songs from The Jesus Story. The whole musical contains 24 songs, of which 18 were chosen to be sung at the performances in Corby Glen and Swayfield, Lincolnshire in 2015.

At the end of 2011, I composed Here is Love for Christmas which was sung by the Choir of the Aldbrough Benefice Churches. This is perhaps my favourite of all the songs. In 2012 I set about filling in the gaps in the narrative and wrote some new songs, for example the Healing of the Ten Men and Peter’s Denial.

I compose to the guitar and do not write down music.  I was helped in this by Julian Watson who kindly transcribed the musical between August 2012 and April 2013.  For a year I tried hard to get The Jesus Story published or performed, helped by Sylvia.   But despite a lot of effort (and prayer!) nothing happened.  Then in the summer of 2014 Sue Glover and Janet Roberts agreed to take on the project.  They did all the choral arrangements between them and produced the score.  They also recruited the choir and band members from the local area.   We had generous financial support from my friend Vic Wood who had been encouraging us during the difficult period.

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The musical, which includes a linking narration, received its first performances on Friday April 17th in Swayfield Village Hall and Sunday April 19th in Corby Glen Church Street Rooms under the direction of Janet Roberts. Sue Glover produced all the publicity. The performances were received with great enthusiasm, scrumptious refreshments enjoyed, and we thank God.

The Jesus Story Performances

2015 Swayfield and Corby Glen

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The first performance of The Jesus Story musical was held at Swayfield Village Hall on Friday April 17, 2015. The second was held at Corby Glen Church Street Rooms on Sunday Spril 19, 2015.
A choir of over 20 sang the story, accompanied by a band of keyboard, drums and two guitars. The conductor was Janet Roberts who did an excellent job of keeping the music harmonious! A narration linked the songs.

Both halls were filled to capacity and the audiences joined in with two of the songs, with gusto. The following letter of appreciation sums up the response:

The Jesus Story – brilliant! Wasn’t sure what to expect, but was totally surprised and inspired by the very professional, enjoyable, simplicity of the presentation.

The orchestra was superb and the choir exceptional – such beautiful music and I could hear every word.

As you said – it is a gift from God – has to be, to send one away feeling so elated and joyful. Thank you – it must be heard again and again – it deserves such recognition. Please convey my thanks to all concerned – so very much appreciated.

2016 Harrowby Lane Methodist Church in Grantham and Edenham Village Hall

choir edenham

WOW!!!! What an incredible treat! A really uplifting experience…  These were comments received after the latest performance of The Jesus Story Musical, written by Revd Richard Rice-Oxley.  First performed last year by a local choir, the Musical has been very warmly received and money raised for local churches, this year in Harrowby Lane Methodist Church, Grantham, and Edenham Church.  Around 100 people came and enthusiastically joined in two rousing choruses.  As the Vicar of Edenham said, The Jesus Story was a fitting beginning for Holy Week.

The Jesus Story Musical is suitable for local choirs and schools to perform.  Later this year we plan to make the full score available.  In the meantime information is on our website rev-rice-oxley.uk.  The next performance will be at Morton Church on Saturday June 25th.

The Jesus Story

The Jesus Story is a musical journey, written by the Rev. Richard Rice-Oxley, through the birth, life ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The choral arrangements have been made by Sue Glover and Janet Roberts.

The 24 original songs are all based on the New Testament, are in different styles, and take a varied approach. Some are a straight retelling of the Biblical narrative; others offer an insight into the meaning of key events, such as Christmas, Good Friday and Easter Day.

The songs are suitable for soloist, duet and chorus (choir and congregation or audience).

Richard hopes that his musical may be widely used by churches and schools.

The Jesus Story – summary of the songs

  1. Dayspring (Based on Zechariah’s prophecy of the coming of Jesus)
  2. Come and worship (Christmas)
  3. See his light (Christmas)
  4. Sleep tight (Christmas)
  5. Here is love (Christmas)
  6. The Baptism (Jesus is baptised by John the Baptist)
  7. What sort of Saviour? (Temptation in the wilderness)
  8. The Beatitudes (Jesus’ teaching)
  9. The Prodigal Son (Jesus’ teaching)
  10. The Sea of Galilee (Miracles of Jesus)
  11. The healing of the ten men (Miracles of Jesus)
  12. Come to me (Words of comfort)
  13. Hosanna (Palm Sunday)
  14. The Last Supper (Institution of Holy Communion)
  15. Peace (Words at the Last Supper)
  16. The moon shines (Gethsemane)
  17. Peter’s denial
  18. Lord, what have they done? (Good Friday)
  19. Blood on his hands (Good Friday)
  20. God has spoken (Easter Day)
  21. Hallelujah (Easter Day)
  22. Face to face (The ascended Christ)
  23. We see Christ (Summary)
  24. Follow, follow (The call to mission)

A selection of eighteen of the songs have been performed by a local choir formed from various churches in South Lincolnshire, under the leadership of Janet Roberts. Recordings made at one of the performances, together with narrative text, are available on this website: Listen to The Jesus Story.

Vocal scores with three-part harmony musical arrangements for the songs are available as pdf downloads from this website: Perform The Jesus Story.