for the
Family Carol Service
St. Augustine's

2004 December 14

These are notes and comments on some of the items which appear in the Family Carol Service script. Links from the script point to these entries; clicking the links in the left hand column of the table takes you back to the corresponding link in the script - or, where more than one link from the script points to the note, back to the first such link.

The comments are typically related to features of the service which are specific to our church or the time of the service, or which for some other reason we think might require alteration for another setting.

For references to the internal geography of the church, it might be helpful to inspect the plan.

Furniture : The "Gift Table" : a table at the hospital side of the altar. Behind the Gift Table was a blackboard covered in a light blue cloth; on the cloth are the words "Our Gift to God".

The "Candle table" : between the Gift Table and the wall.

On the altar curtain : the message :

God's gift to us


Chair near altar for Joseph to sit on.

Chair behind blackboard for 'God' to sit on; microphone for 'God'.

Christmas tree.

Properties : On the candle table :
  • Five main unlit candles;
  • Cards ( see below ) with worship, compassion, obedience, willingness and telling others on them, lying flat in front of the main candles.
  • Smaller candles for others to light as the service progresses, in front of the cards.

On the gift table :

  • Paper to write our gifts on,
  • and pens;
  • Basket for our gifts.

Manger, doll and chair at Hospital side ready to move into the centre later in the service.

People : Overheads person at front before service begins.

Angel hides behind blackboard.

God sits on chair behind blackboard.

Imaginary places : The inn door is the central gap in the communion rail.

The stable is the area in front of the altar.

ALL GLORY BE .... It's a verse from "While shepherds watched their flocks by night".
CANDLE TABLE At the beginning of the service there are many small candles on the table. Actors light candles on the table during the service, and everyone is invited to light a candle towards the end of the service.

There were also some taper candles for people to use to light their candles.

CARDS These are cards bearing the names of abstract gifts - for example, the "obedience card" says "Obedience"; they are kept on the candle table. An actor comes to the table, lights a candle, and lifts up the corresponding card and places it in front of the candle.
CHRISTMAS TREE The tree is in its usual place, decorated with plain lights and silver gift boxes tied with red ribbon, to emphasise that the service is about the gifts that we offer to God. It is not explicitly used in this service.
DOOR The "door" ( like the rest of the inn ) was imaginary. People accept this quite happily, but it's important to be consistent - for example, the door should always be in the same place.
DUET Because we had two singers who could do it; if you haven't, it's probably better not to try.

Both singers sang the narrative parts, singing soprano and bass. The soprano alone sang Mary's words; the bass sang Gabriel's, using the melody, not the bass part.

It was well received.

GIFT TABLE This is the point at which we offer our gifts to God. It is a small table standing to the right of the candle table, covered with a cloth; the gifts are placed on this table. Before the service begins a basket and pens are on the table for those who want to write down the gift they want to give to God
GOD 'God' is not seen, and is heard only through the microphone. Our 'God' was behind the blackboard because it was the only place that worked with our set and the available microphone cables.
KNOCKING Our Joseph knocked on the altar rail, which made the right sort of noise. Our door was imaginary, but it seemed best for Joseph to do the knocking ( - rather than have a stage hand do it out of sight, for example ) because it solved the synchronisation problem.
MANGER Our usual manger.
NEW ZEALAND HERALD That's the local newspaper. The relevant clipping from the Herald was reproduced in the service sheet. Any other relevant reference would do, or you could rewrite this section a bit.
PAPER Small slips of paper were used for the congregation to write their gifts on. We put "Post it" labels in the programme ( they have slightly sticky bits on and we hoped that would keep them in the programmes ), and also put some paper on the table in case the notes were lost.
SWAPPING PLUGS An expedient forced upon us by circumstances. 'God' has his own microphone, and His voice comes from a pair of loudspeakers at the back of the church, not the set at the front used for all the other sounds. As we have only one amplifier and no mixer, some switching is necessary. The effort was worthwhile; the effect was very good. ( - but it would have been a lot easier with a bit more electronics. )
VICAR An accident. He doesn't usually come to the family services, but as he was there he offered the final prayers. Usually someone else does it.