Gervase Phinn: A Yorkshire nativity

Of all the nativity plays I have seen the most memorable was performed in a small country school. The cast, children from largely farming backgrounds, had dispensed with the usual attire and had opted for simple modern dress. A large, fresh-faced girl with long flaxen hair and attired in black slacks and a white blouse stood at the side of the stage as two children, the boy dressed in jeans and denim jacket, the girl in a bright flowery dress, entered holding hands.

"And it came to pass," said the narrator, "that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, the Emperor in Rome, that all the world should be taxed and Joseph, the carpenter, took Mary, his wife, who was having a baby, from Galilee to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, in Judea from where his family came. They walked wearily along the hot and dusty road and into the town, which was crowded with people all there to be counted. Very soon Mary and Joseph, tired from their long journey, arrived at an inn."

A boy wearing a blue and white striped apron stepped on stage, his hands on his hips.

"Innkeeper! Innkeeper! As thy any room?" asked Joseph.

"Nay, lad," replied the Innkeeper. "I've nowt left. We're full to burstin'."

"That's a rum do. We've been on t'rooad all day," Joseph told him, "and both on us are fair fit to drop."

"Well. I'm reight sorry, lad, but there's nowt I can give thee. We're full up for t'neet."

"I've got t'wife out 'ere," announced Joseph. "An' she's 'avin' a babby, tha knaas."

"Theer's t'stable round t'back. Bit basic like, but it's warm and dry enough. Tha can sleep theer if tha wants," said the Innkeeper.

"It'll 'ave to do," said Joseph. "Come on Mary."

The narrator took up the story. "And so Mary and Joseph had to sleep in the barn with the oxen and the asses, for there was no room in the inn."

The holy couple left the stage and two boys and a girl entered.

"Now nearby, in a distant dale, on a dark, cold night, three shepherds were tending their sheep and watching over their flocks, when suddenly there appeared, in the dark sky, a great light."

"Hey up!" said the first shepherd, "tek a look at that then!"

"Weer?" asked the second shepherd.



"Theer up yonder in t'sky."

"Wor is it?"

"I don't know but it's gerrin' brighter."

A girl entered in a white blouse and skirt. "Hey up, lads! Don't be frit. I'm not gunna hurt thee. I'm Hangel o' Lord, 'ere wi' tidin's of gret joy."

"What's that then?" asked the third shepherd.

"There's a babby boy been booarn toneet, a reight special babby, who's liggin in a manger, wrapped up in swaddling bands, ovver in Bethle'em. God's own lad, Saviour o' World, Christ the Lord, the Messiah – and does thy know what?"

"What?" asked the first shepherd.

"'E's a reight bobby-dazzler, that's


"Way, 'appen we berrer gu an' see 'im then, sithee," said the first shepherd.

YP MAG 18/12/10