Someone recently remarked to me how my writing often dwells on the darker side of life. I am not sure that is exactly true but I take their point, so I thought I would share with you something a little lighter.

This is a nativity play that I wrote last year for our local church that we used on Christmas Eve. The children who performed it were amazing. The moment when the child carried a jar of fireflies (the fireflies were expertly played by a set of fairy lights) down the church aisle, with the lights dimmed, was a particularly special moment that I will remember for a long time. Anyway here it is, I hope you enjoy it.

The Oxen And The Donkey


Little Donkey. (During hymn Mary, Joseph and Donkey enter)
Our first narrator, The Oxen enters.

It is told that on Christmas Eve at midnight the stable animals speak and if you are blessed you may hear them.
Look at this tiny, ordinary stable, where tonight we might meet and hear from some of my friends.
There is Mary, Joseph and a precious child who has just been born on this special night, let’s sing silent night.

Silent Night.

Hey Donkey, they look so cold!
Look at Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus with his kind face.
Maybe glorious angels can shine some light and radiate some heat in this damp place.

Hark the Herald Angels Sing : Donkey moves over to stand by Oxen, the Angels enter.

Don’t worry my gentle Oxen friend;
To my dear lord I give my sweetest hay to warm his bed. (Donkey puts hay into the manger)
But he still looks cold!
We need something warmer to keep him best.
Ah here comes just the thing
Some good shepherds and their humble sheep,
They will help his rest.

While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks – Shepherds and Sheep enter during the hymn.

My dear friends and woolly sheep kneel all around baby Jesus and make a fleecy place for him to rest. (The sheep all gather round the manger)
What say you now Oxen?
I still think this bed is not fit for a king and we must find more warmth for these travellers’ whose story now unfolds.
We must have more creatures round here who can stop the cold.

You are right donkey!
We must find more help and here comes the trick,
three wise men from the east bearing fine gifts.

We Three Kings – During hymn Three Kings enter with a camel. They lay Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh and the camel stands with Donkey and Oxen.

Evening camel you’ve come a long way for sure
and you’ve brought just the thing, some comfy warm straw.

To my lord on this special night,
I give my best straw so he can sleep tight.
(Camel places straw and sits with Mary, Joseph and Jesus and animals)

I’m an oxen, breathing warm beside you child,
to keep the winter cold away.
I have more friends here to keep you warm
as you need more than straw and hay.

Here is spider spinning a silken blanket to lay upon your manger bed
and fireflies like tiny candles to light the darkness of this shed,
gentle nightingale in the rafters with feathers to lie beneath your head.
(Spider, shepherd carrying jar of fireflies and nightingale all come in, spider lays a blanket and nightingale feathers in the manager)

Now let us make words and sing
for this manger bed is now fit for our king.

Sing Away in a Manger

All these tales of animals speaking and lending a hand have come from around our many lands.
England, France, Poland and Spain,
it doesn’t matter where our friends do dwell, they have all come to worship our lord Emanuel.

We all know about the gifts from the kings and the shepherds and here we have seen the animals give more humble things, all that they had.
We may not be kings or even shepherds but what will we bring to the stable this Christmas?

In The Bleak Midwinter


©John de Gruyther 2012

The inspiration for this play came from the wonderful book by Phyllis Root “All for the Newborn Baby”

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