The Scots Christmas story

15th December 2000 at 00:00
A nativity play written by Jean Miller and the P7 pupils at Newfield Primary School, South Lanarkshire


NarratorKirstie Miss Gibnie, teacher Pupils: Callum, Fiona, Paula, Caroline, Stuart, Bryan, Anne, Claire, Iain, Adele, Rachel, Nicola, Cherie, Craig, Derrick, Andrew, Scott, Jenna, Mhairi, Kelly, Gillian (children's names can be changed) MaryClaire JosephIain Archangel GabrielPaula Assistant angel BrightnessAdele Apprentices: SparkleRachel, GlitterNicola, StarlightCherie King HerodCallum Queen HerodiasAnne PolishKelly, DustGillian Shepherds: StopCaroline, LookDerrick, ListenAndrew Magi: CasparBryan, Melchior Stuart, BalthasarCraig InnkeeperScott Innkeeper's wifeFiona PledgeJenna, SheenMhairi

Music Choir, O'Hara's Band and The Dark Island Prologue Kirstie (dressed in shawl) Welcome ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Today we are going to turn back time to 100 years ago to Camnethan Street School in Stonehouse and act out as we think the first nativity play in Stonehouse may have been performed.

Scene 1 Camnethan Street School, 1899.

Props School bell, two benches, history book for Bryan, a wee stool for Miss Gibnie and a large book for her.

Costumes Miss Gibnie: long skirt, high necked white blouse or jumper, brooch, glasses, shawl and black shoes Boys: short dark trousers, white shirts, waistcoats, caps and scarves for some, bare feet or black shoes Girls: skirts, white T-shirts, shawls, mop caps, bare feet or black shoes A bell is rung. The children come in, the boys from one side and the girls from the other, and all sit down silently. Their teacher starts her history lesson.

Miss G Today's date? Callum?

Callum I December, 1899.

Miss G Good. Now it's history today; who can tell me what was the date of the Battle of Culloden? Fiona?

Fiona 16th April, 1746.

Miss G Speak up, girl! We all want to hear! A terrible day for Scotland. Now, what did the Disarming Act of 1746 forbid the Scots to wear? Paula?

Paula Tartan, Miss.

Miss G Correct. What were they forbidden to keep? Caroline?

Caroline Weapons, Miss.

Miss G What were they forbidden to play? Stuart?

Stuart The bagpipes, Miss.

Miss G Correct. And what happened to the Scots' language after that time?

Bryan, read from our history book out loud to the rest of the class. Pay attention, as you will be tested on the School Board inspection visit and for each wrong answer you will be belted once by Mr Anderson, the dominie.

Bryan, we are waiting!

Bryan "Following the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the Disarming Act forbade the wearing of tartan, the keeping of weapons and the playing of bagpipes. The clan chiefs became anglicised and were unable to speak Gaelic. Many people were forced to emigrate overseas or seek employment in the Lowlands during the Highland Clearances.

"The 1872 Education Act made education compulsory, but gave no place to Gaelic and insisted on a policy of English only, which was to be written, spoken and read in schools."

Miss G Anne, tell us when the first nativity play was performed.

Anne It was in 1224, when St Francis of Assisi staged the first nativity play with real people and animals.

Miss G Correct. Mr Anderson, our dominie, wants our class to put on a nativity play for the School Board inspection this month.

All Aye, Miss.

Miss G All of you will have a part. Now, let me see. Claire, you will be Mary; Iain, you will be Joseph and Paula, you will be the angel Gabriel, but we shall have some other angels as well. Adele will be the assistant angel and Rachel, Nicola and Cherie can be the apprentice angels.

Off you go now and ask Mr Fleming the jannie tae find the manger fur the play oot o his boiler hoose straight away!

Iain, Claire, Paula, Adele, Rachel, Nicola and Cherie exit to get changed.

Craig Miss, Ah wanted tae be an angel.

Miss G You, Craig?

Craig Miss, angels dinnie need tae say much, jist look bonnie!

Miss G Aye Craig, you'd look gey bonnie in yer grannie's goonie wi' a pair o' weengs tae flap aboot in, laddie!

Craig Miss, whit kin Ah be then?

Miss G A wise man perhaps? You can join Bryan and Stuart as the keengs o' the Orient.

Caroline will be our shepherd as her uncle's a fermer and could gie us, like St Francis, some yows and beasts. Has he got a donkey we could get a shot of for Mary tae go tae Bethlehem on? That would impress the inspectors!

Noo, we still need a couple o' laddies tae help you, so take Derrick and Andrew alang as weel.

Caroline Miss, could Ah bring in mah wee dug? If Ah've tae be a shepherd, Ah'll need a dug.

Miss G Fiona and Scott can be innkeepers and Jenna and Mhairi can be maids as nae doot like today the wimmin were aye busy cleanin, cookin and washin!

Callum Miss, since ma faither's got the shop could Ah be Keeng Herod? Ah could git mah mammy's fancy curtins tae show aff in, and kin Anne be mah wife, as she's aye bossin' me aboot?

Miss G Why not? She kin be the power behind the throne and organise you!

But they'll need a servant tae run efter them, so Kelly and Gillian kin get aw dressed up in a fancy rig oot as weel.

Kirstie rings the bell to end the school day and all the children leave the stage to get changed. Kirstie quickly swops her shawl for a long, dark cloak or cape to take on the role of narrator.

Scene 2 Nazareth, inside Mary's home.

Props A broom.

Costumes Mary: plain dark blue dress, sandals.

Archangel Gabriel: white or cream silky long nightie, white or cream blouse (put on back to front), gold cummerbund, tinsel for hair, white or gold sandals.

Other angels: a variety of white, silver and gold.

Joseph: striped Middle Eastern man's outfit, plain waistcoat, sandals.

Narrator Wan bonny day, Mary wis busyin' hersel in the hoose, when oot o naewhare a host o' bonny angels cam doon, flappin their wings.

Gabriel Dinnie be feart lassie, me neem's Gabriaiel an Ah'm come doon tae tell ye that yer haein' a wee wean.

Mary Mercy me, whit a fright ye've all gied me! Whit wis that ye cried oot? Ah'm haein' a wee wean!?

Gabriel Calm doon, lassie. God has sent me tae tell ye the news that it's nae an ordinary wean.

Brightness That's right. He's goin' tae be a keeng an you've been chosen tae be His mammy.

Sparkle Ah'm awfy sorry, though, but when yer due you'll hae tae gang tae Bethlehem fur a wee census tae be coonted by yon Roman sodjers an Ah ken the bit'll be awfie busy.

Glitter Now mind and git thon man o yours organised tae book ahead and hiv a bonny wee room aw set up fur ye noo!

Mary Why has God picked me?

Starlight We dinnie ken, Mary. Wheesht noo! Ah hear Him shoutin' doon tae us all.

Gabriel We must all be needed elsewhere tae tell some other folk news. Cheerie!

Angel Brightness, kin ye no git thon apprentices mair organised though? Jist look at them!

Brightness Ah'm awfie sorry! Ah dinnie ken whit tae dae wi' them. Ye just cannie git the richt kind o' apprentices these days, as weel you ken! They cannie even flit aboot wi'oot fliein' in tae each other!

The apprentice angels leave laughing and chattering with the angels Gabriel and Brightness turning around to look annoyed at them.


Joseph Whit is it Mary? Ye look awfie pale an wan. It must be aw that runnin' aboot yer daein in the heat. Ye'll need tae stop an hae a wee rest efter ye've fetched in the water frae the well.

Mary Joseph, Ah might as weel tell ye. Ah'm haein' a wean.

Joseph Ye're WHIT!?

Mary I tellt ye, Ah'm haein' a wean, an you're no the faither. A bonnie host o' angels cem doon oot o' nawwhere an tellt me that Ah wis haein' a wean thit wis tae be a keeng. He's tae be God's son an you and I hiv tae tak care o' Him.

Joseph Lassie, Ah'm fair stammagastered! Weel, there's nothin' fur it but we'll hae tae git merrit in the morn! Ah'm no havin' ony tongues waggin aboot ye doon at thon well. Come on, we'll git redd up and see the meenister the noo.

Mary and Joseph exit.

Scene 3 Mary and Joseph have prepared for the journey to Bethlehem and are ready to leave Nazareth.

Props A life-size model donkey on a wheeled trolley, with a striped piece of material over its back and a rope around its neck, a small cloth bag and a small pottery or stone bottle.

Costumes As before, plus a white cloth covering Mary's head and shoulders.

Narrator Wan roastin hot day a wee donkey wi shooglie legs was walkin on doon the road, carrying a wee wummin on his back. The man and wummin were baith goin tae Bethlehem fur the census cried oot by thon Roman emperor awa in Italy. The wummin was expectin' her wean awfie soon and the lang journey would tak a couple o' days fur them tae be in Bethlehem.

Joseph Dae ye huv iverthin' ye need Mary? Ah'll awa an gie the donkey wan last drink o' water afore we gang.

Mary Aye, Ah'm fine, Ah'm jist wishin' that this lang journey wis ower.

Joseph Och, it'll be jist a wee dauner an we'll be there afore ye ken ocht aboot it!

Richt then, let's heid aff.

Mary Joseph, it's awfie hot. Kin Ah hiv a drink an a wee piece? Ah'm feelin' thon peelie-wallie wey wi' aw thon travellin'.

Joseph Noo leave some tae the donkey, Mary, the wee fella's feelin' the heat anaw.

Mary Sorry Joseph, Ah wisnie thinkin'. Pair Jasper's strugglin' as weel. Haud on a meenit, Ah think Ah kin see Bethlehem ower there! Oh, fur a wee cup a tea an a seat that's no movin'.

Joseph Aye lassie, it'll be no lang noo fur us all tae hae a rest.

Mary So whit inn did ye git yer cousin Matthew tae pit aside a room fur us?

Joseph Aw Mary, Ah kent there wis somethin' that Ah should hae done but ye ken whit it's been like wi' aw the work needin' done on the hoose. Ah'm aw richt wi' the joinery work but Ah'm nae sae guid wi' the decoratin'!

Mary Wheesht! Is that no like a man! Ah'm fair dumbfoonert! Ah'm sure there'll be some nice wee room jist roon the corner, come on!

Mary and Joseph move on to try the last inn in Bethlehem.

Narrator Pair Mary wis aboot tae hey her wean so she wis in an awfie state. They hud been tae aboot fower or five inns and not wan o' them hud ony rooms left fur them. By this time Mary wis pechin like onything in Joseph wis in a right state noo as weel!

Music Percussion, Little Donkey.

Scene 4 The Wise Men are travelling, following a bright star.

Props An impressive. large chair covered with a throw of rich material.

Costumes King Herod, Queen Herodias, Wise Men: long, bright, long-sleeved dress or nightgowns, crowns or turbans, gold or bright sandalsslippers.

Servants: richly dressed but also wearing pinnies.

Narrator The Wise Men huv been travellin' fur weeks, followin' a bonnie bright star which they believe will tak them tae a new born keeng. They arrive late at night at the palace of King Herod and his Queen, who is even mair crabbit than he is!

King Herod Enter! Servant, move yersel, ye lazy lump, an see oor veesitors in the noo.

Servant Dust Please come in. Noo watch oot, if ye think he's crabbit thon wifie o' his is worse than a bag o' weasels thit havnae hud their dinner!

Queen Herodias Whit de ye want at this time o' night? A'body's in their beds fast asleep. An whit are ye gowkin at? Hiv ye no seen onybody in their goonie afore the noo?

Caspar We have come tae wish you congratulations, mah lady.

Melchior Yes, oor respects frae us on the birth o' the new keeng.

Balthasar We hiv been followin' thon shinin' star in the sky fur months noo and a'body roonaboots here tellt us that this wis the only palace worth a guid look.

Herod Whit are ye talking aboot, man? A new keeng? Ah'm the only keeng aroon fur miles an there's nae others aboot. Ah jist woodnie allow it!

Herodias Haud yer wheesht, Herod! Yer a glaikit man! How on this Earth are we tae fun oot onythin' aboot a new keeng if aw ye dae is haver on aboot you bein' the wan an only keeng? There's ither weys o' maybes getting tae ken aboot a new keeng.

Herod Aye aye, yer richt again mah wee tumshie. Ah'll no be sae pernickety an Ah'll ask yer guid advice, tae gie these braw folk a bed fur the night and then tae speed them on their wey.

Herodias Aye, but tell them that ye want them tae return and tell us where this bonnie new keeng is as we want tae visit him an aw! Then, we kin git rid o' him. Ah'm no havin' some ither keeng when Ah've jist got things sorted oot tae bein' done my way roonaboots here!

Herod Gentlemen, will ye no stey the night, an rest yer weary camels as weel? But mind an come back when ye've fun that bonnie wee keeng so that baith o' us kin gang an worship him!

Melchior Many thanks for yer hospitality tae ye both. But we must be on oor wey.

Balthasar The star is guidin' us an we must be near tae oor journey's end noo.

Caspar We'll awa the noo, but we'll be sure tae tell ye all aboot him when we call in on oor wey back!

Servant Polish Please kin Ah no come wi' ye? Ah've an awfie life wi' thon pair o' skinflints that hiv me working all oors o' the day and nicht!

Herodias Ye sleekit wee middin! Whit mair kin a lassie want? Noo yer wantin tae be looking efter camels an roamin the desert! Git in an polish the royal chantie pots!

The Wise Men leave with King Herod and his wife waving them goodbye.

Narrator The wabbit Wise Men left tae travel on their weary wey towards Bethlehem, but thon a bonnie wee host o' angels tellt them when they wur asleep no tae gang onywheres near thon crabbit auld man an his sleekit wife an tae keep the news o' the new Keeng's birth tae themselves.

Music Choir, Riding out Across the Desert.

Scene 5 The innkeeper finds a place for Mary and Joseph to stay and baby Jesus is born in the stable.

Props The wheeled donkey Costumes Mary and Joseph: as before.

Innkeeper and wife: long, plain coloured outfits with long, knitted waistcoat or apron and sandals. Maids: long, dark skirts, blouses, striped long pinnies and sandals.

Narrator Things were getting awfie desperate for Mary and Joseph tae fun a wee bit tae stey in. This wis the very last inn in the hale o' Bethlehem an it wis getting dark like.

Joseph hammers on the inn door and the innkeeper and wife come to the door. She is drying her hands on her apron.

Joseph Dae ye huv ony rooms left at aw? Ma bonnie wee wife is aboot tae hae oor wean an we'll sleep ony place!

Innkeeper No room at the inn, sorry.

Innkeeper's wife Ah'm really sorry, but Ah doot we dinnie hae onything. Ah'll git oor maid tae check if the last room his been taken.

Miss Pledge No, we don't huv that room ony mair. A family frae Jerusalem jist took it hauf an oor ago.

Innkeeper's wife Go an look lassie, tae see if there's a wee space onywhere fur them tae huv.

It's this census ye ken, the place is fair heavin wi' folk.

Hurry up lassie! It's no a palace that we've got!

Miss Sheen Ah've looked everywhere an the only bit o' space is in thon stable o' oors oot the back.

Mary Oh please, ma time is near fur me tae huv this special wean. Ah'll need tae gang somewhere!

Miss Pledge Aye, there's still the stable ye ken.

Innkeeper's wife Aye, that's richt! Ye kin be oot in the stable if ye dinnie mind sleepin' aside the beasts. Ah ken it's warm and clean. Ah got that man o' mine tae gie it a guid clean only an oor ago!

Joseph That will dae us jist grand. Come on lassie, we'll git settled in the noo.

Narrator Mary and Joseph settled in and baby Jesus was born wi' the beasts lookin' on an' the star shining even more brightly.

Music Percussion, Little Baby Boy.

Scene 6 The bonny angels visit the shepherds on the hills.

Props Shepherds' crooks, a real or toy dog, a toy lamb or sheep and a bonnie wee shawl.

Costumes Shepherds: sacking cloth type tabards, waistcoats and sandals. Angels: as before.

Narrator The shepherds hid been eatin' their cheese pieces wi' their wee dug, Badger, lyin' aside them greetin' an ready tae gobble up ony crusts that they were no wantin' when, on tap o' the bothy roof, a shining light blindered them. It wis those bonnie busy angels, wi' Gabriel in charge again!

Shepherd Stop Whit's that shinin' light up there? Ah dinnie ken whit it is. It must be ghosties, ghosties. Jingsie me!

Gabriel Dinnie fear, Ah'm the Angel Gabriaiel an Ah bring ye guid news.

Brightness A special wean his been born in Bethlehem. He's God's ain son, ye ken.

Sparkle He's come doon tae change the world!

Glitter You will find Him wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

Starbright Noo if ye want tae visit Him, follow thon shinin' star up there an it will lead ye tae Him!

Shepherd Look Where did thon special wean come frae?

Gabriel God chose a couple called Mary and Joseph to have His son.

Brightness Noo we must awa. Ah kin hear oor neems being mentioned again. Cheerie!

Gabriel and Brightness Wid ye look at them!

Brightness Jingsie me! Whit wid ye dae wi wee silly lassies like thon?

Gabriel Aye, but they're learning! Ye ken, they hiv tellt the message, an they're an awfie lot better than they wur. Afore, they were jist terrible an noo they kin even flit aboot wi' no bumpin' in tae wan another.

The angels all leave, following one behind the other in an orderly manner.

Shepherd Look We'll jist dae that an Ah'll tak a wee lambie as a gift fur the keeng.

Shepherd Listen Ah'll jist pen in these yows and lambies an we'll all go away off tae Bethlehem. Come on dug!

Shepherd Stop Whit aboot a gift? Ye cannie gang an visit a new wean wi' oot a mindin.

Shepherd Look Aye, we could a take a wee lambie.

Shepherd Listen Or whit aboot a wee bonny shawl tae keep Him warm?

Shepherd Stop We'll tak both! Come on dug!

Narrator Jist as the shepherds wis comin' doon frae the hills, the Wise Men were arriving in Bethlehem on their wabbit camels. The stable wis noo awfie quiet, wi' only the beasts an yows eatin' their hey. Mary wis haudin thon wean tae her while Joseph watched ower the baith o' them wi' love an astonishment.

Music Choir, Rise up Shepherd and Follow.

Scene 7 The Shepherds and Wise Men arrive at the stable with their gifts.

Props A toy lamb, a shawl, crooks for the shepherds, a dog, golden or jewelled objects for the Wise Men's gifts, a manger filled with straw, baby Jesus wrapped in white muslin, a chair or stool for Mary.

Costumes All as before.

The shepherds are the first to arrive at the stable.

Narrator Weel, at last oor story is almost finished. Jesus is noo lyin in thon manger in a stable wi' Mary an Joseph tae tak care o' Him.

Shepherd Stop Am Ah at the right place?

Shepherd Look A bonnie angel tellt us aboot a new keeng that's been born.

Shepherd Listen Is that Him?

Shepherd Stop My He's a braw wean, an lyin in a manger just like thon angels tellt us!

Mary Hullo, Ah'm pleased tae see ye.

Shepherd Stop Ah've brought ye a gift frae mah flock o' yows. A bonnie wee lambie.

Shepherd Look An Ah've brought Him a warm shawl tae keep him cosy.

Shepherd Stop An ye kin hiv the dug if ye want. He's awfie guid at barkin' an chewin' things, but he's loyal an loving too.

Joseph Thanks fur yer kindness but Ah think that the dug will be as weel going home wi' you.

The Wise Men arrive outside the stable.

Balthasar (calls out in the background) Ah'll tie up oor camels tae this post ootside.

Caspar and Melchior Richt then!

All three Wise Men now enter the stable.

Caspar I bring ye frankincense, a sweet smellin' incense fur temple worship.

Melchior I bring ye gold, keeng of all metals, a gift fur Jesus, keeng o' keengs.

Balthasar I bring ye myrrh, a fragrant spice fit fur a keeng!

Music All weans come on stage to sing Away in a Manger with the choir.

Epilogue Narrator Weel, ladies an' gentlemen, boys an' girls, Ah'm sure that you'll all agree that wis a most informative an enjoyable time we all hud in Bethlehem. Please gie aw the lads an lassies a big clap fur aw their efforts. Thank you.

Noo aw we need is tae pass this School Board inspection!

With grateful thanks to the Rev Tom Nelson of St Ninian's Parish Church, Stonehouse, for his guidance and advice.

Copies of The Scots Christmas Story, introductory notes and background comments, pound;2.75 inc pamp;p, from The Netherbow, Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SR, tel 0131 556 9579

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