for the
Family Service
St. Augustine's

2007 December 9

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, etc. :
  • House with two chairs in it set up between Hospital wall and altar;
  • Two chairs and manger with baby doll hidden under the straw at Hospital side ready for stable scene;
  • Herod's throne ready at Hospital side;
  • Christmas Tree decorated with red ribbon and gold "angel hair".
  • Lectern by Hospital wall.
  • Around the walls : wide red band with pictures.
  • On the curtain behind the altar : the words "God is so good to us", in "gold" letters on a red backing, matching the "red band" round the walls.

It looks like this :

( Click the picture for a separate version. )

Properties :
  • Camp fire ready at organ side for shepherds.
  • Different drapes for the "house" to represent Mary's home, Elizabeth's home, Joseph's home, Bethlehem home. At the beginning of the service they are all set up on the "house" in the order listed above, with the "Mary's home" drape visible on top.
  • Altar drapes to represent stable, temple, Herod's palace.
  • Duster for young Mary to use.
  • Two doves at back for Joseph to carry to Jerusalem.
  • Gifts at back for Wise Men.
People :
  • Narrator at lectern,
  • Reader at lectern,
  • Computer person at computer,
  • Organist at organ,
  • Angel Gabriel next to organ.
  • Older Mary at Hospital side in front of lectern.
  • Young Mary at the back with a duster.
  • People to hand out orders of service.
  • Someone ready to give out music if required.

CAMP FIRE This is a simulated ( electric ) "camp fire" which looks more symbolic than realistic, but does the trick.
CHRISTMAS TREE We customarily have a large Christmas tree topped with a "star of Bethlehem" in the church during the Christmas season, and we fit it into the carol service somehow if we can. The tree plays no part in this service, except as a piece of furniture, and as a hiding place.
DRAPES ( FOR ALTAR ) The space immediately in front of the altar is, in effect, our centre stage, and is inevitably used for many purposes through the presentation. There is neither time nor space for any significant scene shifting.

The altar drapes are intended to mark the changes of scene, and to hint at the current usage of the area. ( We appear to have lost the details. )

DRAPES ( FOR HOUSE ) Our drapes were fabric sheets of various colours, draped over the "building" frame. The overhang at the top of the frame was about 25cm, sufficient to be clearly visible from the congregation. By setting all the drapes in layers before the service, they could be changed quickly and effectively by simply removing the top layer and bundling it down behind the "house".
GO TO .... Our "stage" area is quite small, so the shepherds and their camp fire are very close to the manger in the stable. The roundabout route emphasises the distinction between the two scenes.
HOUSE A "building" which we have used before. It is used to represent, in turn, Mary's home, Elizabeth's home, Joseph's home, and the Bethlehem home. To emphasise the change in usage, each is represented by a cloth drape, with all drapes of different colours. The drapes are all set on the house at the beginning of the service in order, so that they can be changed by simply stripping off the top drape one by one.
RED BAND Around the walls we fixed a wide red ribbon of crepe paper and pictures of the Nativity Scene; parts of it are visible at the sides of of the setting in the picture above. We used pictures from Biblavision - "The story of Christmas" and "Jesus : Preparation for service" - which were connected with words emphasised in our prayers : SERVANT ROLE, ENCOURAGEMENT, GUIDANCE, SUPPORT, HELPFULNESS, GIFT OF GOD'S SON, GLORY, PROCLAMATION, KINDNESS, JESUS, PURITY, ENQUIRERS, GIFTS, OBEDIENCE, FAMILIES, PARENTS, STRENGTH, ENDURANCE.

The pictures were not explicitly mentioned in the service. Perhaps it would be a good idea to do so.

RETURN TO BETHLEHEM Luke's Gospel says they returned to Nazareth, but Matthew's says that the Wise Men visited them in Bethlehem, and also that they left for Nazareth immediately after the Wise Men's visit.
SIDE OF ORGAN That's not the side of the church ( "organ side" ) - it's the side of the "stage" area, so they're still on stage.
Herod's THRONE A fancy chair, nicely draped to look fairly impressive.