In Life - Debriefed

Way back in 1992, I wrote a little Christmas musical for youth choirs called “For Unto Y’all.”  It was a loving and faithful retelling of the Christmas story with a twist – the story was set in the Old West.  The songs were an homage to the “cowboy song” styles of Roy Rogers, Riders in the Sky, etc.  It was a blast to write and record.  The musical was received well (though not without some controversy).  And though originally marketed (by Word Music) to youth choirs, “FUY” was staged by adult dinner theater groups, senior adult choirs, and even a few children’s choirs! (I was sent some pretty cute pictures from a children’s performance – sweet stuff.)

From the moment I wrote it, I thought the musical was incomplete. Mary and Joseph needed a duet.  Joseph needed a solo.  The Wise Men were missing altogether.  That sort of thing.

So about a year ago – I decided to re-write the script and score – a purely creative exercise.  (Obviously, I had too much free time on my hands.)  The end result is a new and expanded show – with four brand new songs, a few reprises, new arrangements, and, yes – the Wise Men.  The original version ran about 50 minutes.  The new version should run about 80 minutes – just right for a One Act dinner theater show.

I’m in negotiations with Word music right now to see if we can find a church to properly stage “FUY” this coming Christmas (2009) – and make the new show available to the public in 2010.  The youth choir of Prestonwood Baptist Church performed an early version of the show last Christmas – but I’ve since added two songs to the show.  I am anxiously awaiting a DVD that was shot of the Prestonwood performance.

I’l keep you posted on my progress.

Showing 25 comments
  • Kelly

    As the director of our church’s Christmas programs several years ago..yep, early 90’s..hehehe…i did For Unto y’all as my first play! We had the most fun doing FUY!!! It was superbly written, a blast to do and portrayed a wonderful message. Of course, I’ve since left that congregation, started our own church, went back to the original, and now moved south, and no one can find the original cassette. Yes, this was even before CD’s were used.) I ANXIOUSLY await this new and improved program! Hopefully someday I can direct that new edition. Thank you for following God’s lead and including the ‘wise guys’. 🙂 God Bless

    • rsterling

      Kelly –
      Thanks for the encouragement. The new version of “FUY” is complete. But the church we had lined up to work out the kinks this Christmas has bailed on us. So – for now – “FUY – II” is back on the shelf. Disappointing – but unfortunately not that surprising. Maybe next year.

  • Robert Kitchens

    I just wanted to leave a note. I was in this play at a church I attended in the mid 90’s. I was able to play Joseph although I did not sing. Even God would wonder about the (Joyful noise emanating from me). The director simply took the song (Maybe Someday) and let Mary sing it as a single insted of her and I doing the duet. It was great. I am currently looking for a copy of the play simply for my own personal collection. Any idea where I can get a copy and also a copy of the new CD? Thanks for wrioting a qwonderful story. Robert

    • rsterling

      Robert –

      Word Music still offers “FUY” as a print-on-demand product. All the original recordings should be available through word (

      The new version of “FUY” is still unrecorded. You wouldn’t happen to know anybody who wants to fund a quality recording of the new show, would you? 🙂

  • Dale Burkholder


    I am considering using FUY this christmas and was wondering if I could get a copy of the script of just the kings addition to the original?

    • rsterling

      Dale – Unfortunately, it’s not so simple. The “Wise Men” have been integrated throughout the new script, affecting the whole show. They even have a full song, which has no track, and is still not fully arranged. There is no easy way to slip the Wise Men into the old show.

      I have been so busy with work that pays (gotta pay this bills!), that FUY 2.0 has been put on a back burner. Your request, along with Howard’s comment earlier has renewed my desire to see the new show happen. But it’s turning out to be an uphill battle. I’ll try keep you posted on any progress.

  • Howard

    Did you ever get the new version of “FUY” recorded? If so we would love to see and do the show down here in Australia by this Christmas 2012.

    We love your work with choirs but your One Voice we performed Easter 2011 was something very special.

    Would love to hear about the new FUY

    Bless ya

  • Ruth-Ann

    I have the original play on cassette tape, but am down to only one player in the house. Any idea where I could get a hold of this program on CD. The original version is great, while we await production of FUY2.0!

  • Elaine Bhonn

    I ran across some pictures from the original version we did in 1992 (or 93?) at FBC Richardson. It brought back so many fun memories! I haven’t done anything more fun since! And our passion plays were the best! I loved the 3 wisemen song with Leland Baker + 2 and remember fondly all the projects of the Bill Green days.

    Why not try to get the Larry Gatlin involved with “FUY? He does a lot with River Bend Church and I think they even live in Austin now. They do many stage productions and concerts there.

    We live just outside of Austin now on nearly dry Lake Travis which is only 40% full. Please pray for rain for central Texas. Unfortunately they’re expecting a 4th summer of drought. It’s really become a crisis for lake businesses and supplying water to the area as Austin becomes the fasting growing city in Texas.

    I have a nephew Andrew Pates living in Nashville working under the tutelage of Neil Thrasher. They love it up there and have found a great church–very large but can’t think of the name of it. We’re coming up soon to visit. What church to y’all go to?

    Please give my best to Cindy. I know you both are busy doing the Lord’s work.

    Best regards,

    Elaine Bhonn

    • rsterling

      Elaine –

      Good to hear from you.

      I’d love to see some of those pics from “For unto Y’all”! The show turns 20 years old this year – so you would have done it in 1993, probably.

      Interestingly, Steve Gatlin sang one of the solos on the original recording (“Lonesome Star”).

      I’ll be posting some wonderful news regarding “For Unto Y’all” soon.

  • Kris Jones

    I am anxiously waiting and wondering if “part duex” has made it yet. I am doing this play this year and would really like to see the new one!

    • rsterling

      We are mixing the tracks for the new version even as i write this. They should be finished by the end of this month. Stay tuned here. Or send me a message thru the “contact us” part of the website – and I’ll keep you posted.

  • Tim

    Hi Robert

    I fondly remember playing Gabriel in a version of FUY our Sunday School did a little over a decade ago. We were going through our archives this morning looking for the play to do this Christmas with our Sunday School. Is there any updates about the new version?
    We’d absolutely love to do FUY v2 this year!! 🙂


    Wynberg Congregational Church
    South Africa

    • rsterling

      Tim –

      Good to hear from a former “Gabriel.” I am trying to get the new version made available. There are still some details to work through.

  • Betty Clark

    We did the original play several years ago and when I mentioned doing it again this year, everyone (especially those teens who were in the play and are now parents of our Youth) were really excited! Any updates on when the Part 2 will be available to download?
    Thanks, Betty

    • rsterling

      It’s all in the can, Betty. I’ll shoot you an email with some details.

  • cal beekman

    Any more news on for unto y’all 2.0 or is it scrapped?

    • rsterling

      It is not yet scrapped. It is in a sort of limbo, awaiting decisions from a particular publishing company. Truly sorry for the delay. Believe me, I would like nothing more than to get this squared away.As soon as i know anything, it will be announced here at the site. thanks for your patience and continued interest.

  • Joy Broussard

    Hello, I just ordered a copy of for unto y’all the original version from word. It was recommended to me by Wally Black at First Baptist Church in New Braunfels TX. I am interested in the new version for this Christmas, how ever I can see it’s taken a while to get this version going. If it comes available could you let me know. Thanks

    • rsterling

      Joy –

      Thanks for your inquiry. I think (hope? pray?) I am close to getting the necessary clearances worked out with my friends at Word Music. I’ll be sure to let everybody know as soon as I know. I truly hope this will all be settled shortly and FUY 2.0 can be made available for this Christmas season.

  • Ethan Coltrain

    Every time I think about a Christmas program for our church to do, my thoughts automatically go back to For Unto Yall as I remember my home church performing it when I was in middle school and high school. If you get the revised play ready for purchase for this Christmas season I would gladly buy it!!

    • rsterling

      Ethan – I hope to have news about FUY in the coming days. I’ll be sure to let you know here at the site if all works out.

  • Tammy Spedden

    Hello! I am hoping you can direct me. I have done this wonderful production a couple of times throughout the 12 years at our current church. However, we have done it with children and it’s been a real hit in our community! Last year we were well underway with rehearsals and my Father, who had been battling with cancer and lived several hours away, took a turn for the worse and ended up going to be with Jesus Dec. 3rd. We canceled the production because things were just so up in the air. Anyway, I share all that to say that we have picked up where we left off last year and are scheduled to perform For Unto Ya’ll (the old version) in December. In the chaos of last year, I have somehow misplaced my accompaniment track. Because I work with children, I pre-record their voices on choir parts only. So, if I have to, I can use the children’s vocals from 2006 when we did it. That would take care of most of the songs. However, I would still be missing all of sound effects and I think two of the songs because they were not choir songs. If I can not locate this soundtrack…. is there anyway to get what I am missing from you? Without having to purchase the soundtrack again from Word? I KNOW I will eventually run across it… I just did not realize it had been misplaced. It’s just not where it should be. 🙁 Any advice you could give would be so appreciated. I don’t know if you have ever seen any children do this… but it would make you smile! It gives it a whole new feeling! LOVE it!

    • rsterling

      Tammy – Thanks for your kind comments. I’ve heard of folks doing FUY with children – and they say it’s a blast for the kids. I’ve written you an email addressing your track questions – since they are owned by Word.

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