for the
Family Carol Service
St. Augustine's

2009 November 29

These are notes and comments on some of the items which appear in the Family 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.

Decorations :
  • On the blue curtain :
    • Drapery in the form of a "cross and star" with a heart behind and around it;
    • Labels around the heart - Invitation, Guidance, Compassion, Relationship, Announcement, Proclamation, Worship, Life - written on card.
  • On the Christmas tree :
    • Hearts : Red cardboard hearts approx 10cm wide x 8cms high;
    • Lights : many, small, all white.
  • Christmas windows installed.
Furniture :
  • "Reserved" notices by centre aisle on 5th pew Hospital side and front pew organ side.
  • Stable between altar and lectern with 2 chairs and the manger in it.
  • Chair in front of altar, middle step Hospital end for "Joseph's dream" play.
  • 'pot plant' table, with ornament, at side ready to turn stable into house.
Properties :
  • Baby doll ( Jesus ) wrapped in swaddling clothes hidden near manger; under the swaddling clothes are toddler's clothes.
  • Camp fire at side ready for shepherds bit.
  • Lamb at back ready for shepherds.
  • Wisemen's gifts ( gold, frankincense, myrrh ) at back
People :
  • Narrator at lectern,
  • Computer person at computer,
  • Organist at organ.

ANGEL GABRIEL COMES This could usefully be a bit more dramatic. Our original instruction specified a "bright light", but we couldn't think how to do it easily. Ideally ( perhaps ? ), Gabriel should suddenly appear out of nothing.

BABY Baby doll ( Jesus ) wrapped in swaddling clothes hidden near manger; under the swaddling clothes are toddler's clothes.

CAMP FIRE Our usual camp fire.

COMMUNION Our Communion service was taken from the New Zealand Prayer Book page 512. In the service, we use the book "Liturgies of the Eucharist", which is extracted from the NZPB and retains the same page numbers.

CROSS AND STAR This was constructed in much the same lines as the similar item we used in the Christingle service of 2005, but without the same emphasis on transparency.

ENDING We do not usually constrain our preacher in any way, but in this case it was convenient to build the sermon into the structure of the whole service in this way. This was possible because the preacher had taken a significant part in planning and writing the service itself.

NOTE that the Pray-er and the projector operator must keep alert, listening for the final key sentence !

FLIES, FLYING Our angels are customarily equipped with two "wings" of white material; Gabriel has "gold" wings.

GIFTS A selection from our usual collection.

HEARTS These were made in essentially the same way as the bells which we have used before.

They play no direct part in the service; they were chosen because of the theme "Love came down at Christmas".

HYMNS SUBSTITUTED In our service we used the hymn book "Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New". In this book, many ( most ? ) of the "Hymns Old" have been "improved" by people who know better than the original authors, or by replacing references to offensive words like "men" and "he" with politically correct alternatives. To that extent, there is an element of originality to most of the hymns, and the text printed in the hymn book is subject to copyright.

We can therefore not publish them on this web site. This is unfortunate, as the songs are intended to be part of the service, and to leave them out is to lose some of the significant content.

In two cases, the differences are trivial. Rather than omit the copyright versions, therefore, we have replaced them with older versions no longer subject to copyright where we can. Both versions are referenced in our copyright list ( for obvious reasons, adjacently ); the table below lists references.

A great and mighty wonder old revised
Go, tell it on the mountain old revised

MANGER Our usual manger.

NOTE : YELLOW SECTIONS There are eight such sections in the HTML version of the script, each of the same form :
  • a comment on the immediately preceding part of the service;
  • an interpretation in terms of God's love for us;
  • a congregational response in terms of our love for God.
These are also included in full in the programme for the service.

These sections carry the main message of the service, and should be given some emphasis to identify them as special. We used a special format in the projector presentation. In a more tightly controlled performance, more emphasis could be given in speech or action.

'PLANT POT' TABLE The same "building" is used for both stable and Joseph and Mary's house. The two are distinguished by replacing the manger used in the stable scene by a small ornamental table with an ornament or plant on it. ( Both are illustrated in the description of the building. )

( It's called the "plant pot" table because it usually lives at the back of the church with a plant pot on it. )

SCRIPTURE Micah 5.1,2 : "But you, Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah, out of you will be born for me the one who will rule over Israel".

STABLE As usual, we used our standard "building" as the stable.

TALKING HAPPILY The intention was that the Wisemen would walk to the back chattering merrily about their experience, ad libbing on the lines suggested in the script. It didn't work. The best we got out of our very juvenile actors was a gabbled version if the scripted words. If you want to do it ( which we still think would be a good idea ), you need either more mature actors or much more careful rehearsal.

TURNS ‘STABLE’ INTO HOUSE Compare the pictures in the properties description.

WINDOWS As usual, our "Christmas windows" were installed. They do not play any explicit part in the Carol service, buit were included in the service requirements just to make sure they couldn't be forgotten.

"WISEMAN" We have previously denoted the three kings, philosophers, magicians, sages, or whatever as "wise men". This year, it has been argued that they're not just any old wise men, which that description suggests, but something rather special. Perhaps identifying them as "wisemen" might add the special something. Then again, perhaps it won't - you judge.