St Mary Magdalene's, Dundee

Nativity Play

The Wise Men Nativity plays are deservedly popular with both children and adults. Their themes — of birth, love, joy and wonderment, as well as of frailty, hardship and vulnerability — are universal human experiences, and, for Christians, speak also of the divine. At St Mary Magdalene's, our Nativity plays are written by David Shepherd, our Rector. One of his scripts is given below.

As in all Nativity plays, there are important parts to be played by the children, including Mary, the shepherds, the wise men, and so on. Indeed St Mary Magdalene's wise men of Christmas 2010 (shown on the right), resplendent in their robes and mitres, clearly entered into the spirit of the Christmas festival! In the play below, the story is told from a decidedly unexpected perspective: do read on, and find out.

Stables have ears!

Narrator

I wish to make my protest right away!

I am an elderly donkey — probably one of the oldest donkeys you might meet in Nazareth. Why they chose me, I don't know.

They could have chosen someone else. A bigger donkey! But they chose me — me with my sore feet, my bad back and my poor eyes... And they expect me to walk 100 miles!

All

100 miles!

Narrator

And in winter!

All

In winter!

Narrator

Yes, in winter. To carry this young woman who should have been able to walk on her own two feet.

Children sing "Little Donkey".

Narrator

They came for me at 11 o'clock at night.

All

Eleven o'clock at night!

Mary and Joseph, pulling donkey, set off around the church on their way to Bethlehem.

Narrator

They came secret-like — as if they didn't want anyone to see them. And off we went with the moon and the stars, the frost on the grass, snow on the hills, through the mountain passes.

I didn't know where I was going.

No one told me.

All

We're going to Bethlehem!

Narrator

Where?

All

To Bethlehem! The City of David!

Narrator

Well, I'm glad someone knows where we're going. I didn't.

Children sing "Here we go up to Bethlehem".

Narrator

It was a long way. We were on the road for 10 days.

All

10 days?

Narrator

Well, it may have been six. Eventually we got to this village...
What was it called?

All

Bethlehem!

Narrator

And I was looking forward to my supper, to a bit of peace and quiet, to a nice kip. But, blow me! The place was full. We went to the local hotel.

All

Full up!

Narrator

Everywhere we went, the message was the same.

All

Full up!

Children sing "Rat-a-tat-tat".

Narrator

We went back to the local hotel...

Innkeeper

Not you again!

Joseph

Haven't you got anywhere we could stay? My wife's about to have a baby. We must find some shelter for the night.

Innkeeper

Pauses as if thinking.
Well, I suppose you could have a corner of the stable. At least it'll be roof over your head! So long as you don't mind sharing it with the animals.

Narrator

Well, that was a nice thing to say! An absolute insult! As if human beings were better than us!

Anyway, we went to the stable — and good thing we did! Fifteen minutes later, the baby was born.

Children sing "Away in a Manger".

Narrator

So where did they put the baby?

All

In the manger!

Narrator

So I didn't get my supper after all! Everyone was so excited about the baby. They were wondering what he should be called. I thought Eyeore might be a good name...

All

Jesus!

Narrator

Or even David...after all, it was the City of David.

All

Jesus!

Narrator

Well that's what Joseph said. He's got to be called Jesus — because he's going to save people from their sins.

Shepherds come rushing into the stable. Some confusion. Narrator pauses.

Well, I thought, now they've settled that, perhaps I'll get some sleep. But no! We had another crowd of visitors.

Who were these people?

All

It's the Shepherds!

Shepherds

We're looking for Jesus, Is this where he's been born?

Joseph

Come and have a look — but don't make a noise. He's fast asleep.

Children sing "Still the Night".

Narrator

Well, I didn't get much sleep after that. The shepherds brought one or two of their sheep with them. And they made a terrible noise.

All

Baa...Baa...Baa...Baa...

Narrator

Now you see what I mean. They were there for ages. But then they went back to look after their sheep.

Children sing "While Shepherds Watch".

Narrator

And I thought: Well that's that! I'll get some sleep now! But No! At four o'clock in the morning, there was a terrible noise outside. People shouting: "He's here! He's here!"

All

He's here! He's here!

Narrator

I wondered what was coming next. Four complete strangers come in my stable.

Three kings enter with gifts.

Strange people with crowns on their heads! Fancy clothes. And each of them carrying a gift.
I wonder what they brought...

All  (firmly)

Gold...and Frankincense... And Myrrh!

Kings offer gifts to Mary and Joseph, who are to look appreciative.

Narrator

Oh, is that what it was? Nothing for a poor donkey...

All

Ahhhhhh!

Narrator

I'd have liked some drops for my eyes, some ointment for my back and a mustard bath for my feet! What would I do with...

All

Gold and frankincense and myrhh!

Narrator

What can you do with that?

Pauses.

Joseph asked them how they had known to come to Bethlehem. And they said they had seen a star.
But I hadn't seen a star. I was wearing blinkers. I didn't see anything.

Children sing "We Three Kings".

Narrator

However, there was a happy ending. A real happy ending! The Bible doesn't tell you, but there was a fourth wise man and he brought me two pounds of carrots on a brass plate.

Enter fourth wise man with carrots on brass plate.

Innkeeper

So at last you got your supper?

Narrator

Yes, but that wasn't the end of the story...

Innkeeper

No?

Narrator

No. When we left Bethlehem, we didn't go back to Nazareth. We went down to Egypt.

Innkeeper

Egypt?

Narrator

The Bible tells you the Good News about the baby Jesus being born in Bethlehem. But it doesn't tell you about the donkey!
And he was the one who did all the hard work!

Children sing "We Wish you a Merry Christmas".

The Nativity Play concludes with the congregation singing "O Come All Ye Faithful".