for the
Family Service
St. Augustine's

2009 October 4

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.

Furniture :
  • Bassinet or cot in front of altar with chair for mother next to it;
  • Lectern by Hospital wall;
  • Small table to hold basket of crosses, somewhere out of the way but near the front;
  • Seats reserved for Buyer 1 and Beggee 2 ( front pew, Hospital side ), and for Buyer 2 and Beggee 1 ( fourth pew from back, organ side ), both by the centre aisle ( - or pretty well anywhere reasonably visible ).
Properties :
    ( Click the plan for a larger version. )
  • "Baby" in bassinet;
  • Two rolls of cloth by the wall at the organ side, just by the first step ( by the flower stand );
  • Knitting for mother at back;
  • "Money" :
    • for Beggee 1;
    • for Buyers.
  • Cloaks for Bishop and Man;
  • Shields, swords and cloaks for crusaders under altar rail, Hospital side;
  • Polystyrene "Stones" -
    • at back for Brother 1 to carry in;
    • near altar and organ for building the wall.
People :
  • Reader at lectern,
  • Computer person at computer,
  • Organist at organ.

ARMOUR Military gear : shields, swords and cloaks for Francis and friends. Details are not critical - they are used only for show, and for a very short time.

BASSINET or COT - or something else in which a baby might go to sleep. Bear in mind that this is 1181 !

BEGGEE A nonce-word, meaning one from whom money is begged. If you know a better one, use it.

BREAKFAST Wholly imaginary. Mime it.

BROTHERS MINOR This title seems to have been chosen as an expression of modesty, rather than an official category. For example :

As early as 1209, the first Rule presented to Pope Innocent III opens with these words: "This is the Brothers' (the word "Minor" was not yet used) rule of life: to live in obedience, in chastity, without anything of their own and to follow the doctrine and footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ". The whole spirit of this first Rule is the imitation of our Savior and is based on His words and example. Chapter 23 which is a prayer of praise and thanksgiving shows with inspired precision the motive of this "following of Jesus Christ". We will return to this text in a moment.

The Rule that Pope Honorius III approved in 1223 was more juridical and concise than the earlier edition of 1209, yet it defines the Brothers' rule of life in the same way. This time it refers to them as BROTHERS MINOR, that is to say, lesser or lessened. Their rule of life "consists in the observance of the holy Gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord, living in obedience, without anything of their own, and in chastity". In this connection it is interesting to notice that the imitation of our Lord, which was a corollary of the practice of the evangelical virtues has become the foundation of Franciscan life and that these three virtues have become the means towards this imitation.

CLOAK The cloaks needn't be elaborate. Any shoulder-to-knee outer garment open at the front and without sleeves will do. It's nice if the more important people have fancier cloaks, but not critical.

CLOTH Two rolls of cloth, on the floor at the organ side by the first step ( by the flower stand ). Details are not particularly important, provided that they look like reasonably substantial rolls of cloth and the actors can handle them easily. Ours were of different colours.

COME FORWARD The actors can usefully come first to set an example; we find that others in the congregation always follow.

HYMN We have now acquired a set of hymn books which contain a wide variety of hymns, so we can use it throughout our service. We therefore don't print the words in the service sheet or web page any more. The link from the hymn number just before the hymn title leads to more detail if you need it.

INCLUDING ME Francis's mother was French. ( This reference to her nationality as it appears in the script is somewhat obscure; a sentence about his parents added after "died in 1226" would clarify it. For example  "His father was Italian, and his mother was French." )

JESUS HIDES ... This was not entirely satisfactory. The intention is that the disembodied voice of Jesus should speak from the altar, but our technique of having a person go there to act the part fell short of the idea, mainly because the layout of our church makes it essentially impossible to get anyone there ( and back out again ) without being very conspicuous.

Putting someone there for the whole of the service would count as a cruel and unusual punishment; it would also remove one actor from circulation for essentially the whole of the play. Given a rather more sophisticated sound system, we could have placed a loudspeaker behind the altar and used that, or simply used the usual loudspeaker with Jesus concealed using another microphone. Etc.

( Note that these objections don't apply to the earlier example with God speaking from the balcony; that's both inconspicuous and inconspicuously accessible at any time. )

KNITTING It doesn't have to be knitting; any peaceful activity in which a mother might engage while minding a sleeping baby will do. Again, remember it's 1181. ( Maybe spinning ? )

MONEY Money for Beggee 1.

RIDING No horses; all riding is mimed. ( - which is just as well; after the direction "Francis 'gets off his horse'", the horse is never mentioned again. Our church is now infested with several imaginary horses ... )

SEATS RESERVED - for Buyer 1 ( front pew Hospital side ) and Buyer 2 ( fifth pew organ side ). We place "RESERVED" notices on the seats, because we rarely have enough actors to give each a single part. If you have, you can simply sit the actors in the seats from the beginning.

ST. FRANCIS CROSS Traditionally a T-shaped cross, otherwise called a tau cross. The majority opinion revealed by an unsystematic internet search suggests that "tau" is "the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet ... which was transcribed as a 'T' in Greek" ( quoted from this reference ). Various references suggest that it's pronounced "tow" ( to rhyme with "cow" ). A Franciscan view gives some more information, and a picture of a tau pendant.

STONES "Stones" for building the wall. We have some polystyrene blocks.

STRIPS OFF Use your discretion. Our Francis removed outer garments with a leotard underneath.

WALL It's likely to be a fairly symbolic wall unless you're into heavy engineering. We built ours on a low table to increase its visibility.