“God is the executive producer on this one,” says Derral Eves, associate producer for the hit music video Angels We Have Heard on High, the stunning capstone on a collaborative effort to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest live nativity.
Little did Eves know that what began as a discussion to help promote the Church’s #SharetheGift campaign on YouTube would eventually become a powerful spiritual experience for all involved. With only four weeks to prepare, an army of willing YouTube stars, and over 1,000 volunteers, no one was sure where the project would lead them.
What happened next exceeded everyone’s expectations.
The project quickly gained traction and was the subject of numerous media reports. Not only was the project featured locally in Utah, but published on People.com and highlighted in numerous YouTube videos from the personalities that joined in. Everything culminated in setting an official new world record on December 1 in Provo: between the angels, wise men, and Holy Family, there were 1,039 participants, topping the record set in the United Kingdom last year. Then, on December 12, the official music video featuring the effort was released on The Piano Guy’s official YouTube channel.
Within an hour, the video quickly overtook social media and currently has an ever-rising view count. Viewers around the world felt inspired as they shared the video with their family and friends.
“What He’s done for us, what He does for us, I don’t have enough thanks but this song comes close!” said one.
“Let me tell you something about myself, I am not a huge crier. I am not kidding huge alligator tears when I watched this. I pictured the nativity scene so similarly, me singing with the heavenly hosts,” admitted another.
Such comments highlight exactly what Eves hoped would happen.
“We wanted to show the world what Christmas is all about,” Eves said. “The whole reason why we spent this time and effort to pulling everyone together was to bring the focus back to Christmas where it truly belongs.”
Included in the video are The Piano Guys, David Archuleta, and Peter Hollens singing a powerful arrangement of “Angels from the Realms of Glory” and “Angels We Have Heard on High.” Other participants included Alex Boyé, Shay Butler, Studio C, Mindy McKnight, and more.
But despite the big names involved in the project, Eves stressed the importance of all those who attended.
“This is an interfaith effort, with volunteers coming from as far as Ireland. It was truly amazing and awe-inspiring,” Eves said, noting that the response and effort from each volunteer was the same as each star.
“We are literally blown away each day by how many miracles are happening,” Eves continued. “Literally, we had daily miracles. There is no way we could pull this off without God. We’ve had God by our side. Not only God, but our Savior, Jesus Christ, and we felt their presence, we felt their power during this process.”
He shared an experience of how, with just 10 days until the start of filming, weather reports indicated the worst winter storms of the season were heading to Provo. The storms never came. “He [God] even tempered the weather.”
When asked what he hoped people would understand about the project and monumental effort behind it, Eves said:
“We need to stand up and we need to tell the world and make a statement that we believe in Jesus Christ, that He is the Gift. When we think of Christmas, we think of the Nativity. I’m thinking of a scripture: ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ That right there is what Christmas is really about, God giving all of his children Jesus Christ and making it possible that we can return.”
It’s hard to miss the emotion in Eve’s voice as he speaks of this amazing journey.
“We truly witnessed so many miracles. These miracles left a huge mark and impact on our souls forever.”
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Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.