Advent Reading Challenge: Nativity Play

21st December

Read Me and Laugh

Funny poems galore


‘Just Doing my Job’ a poem by Clare Bevan (taken from Read me and Laugh, edited by Gaby Morgan, mentioned in a previous post). This poem was originally published in We Three Kings (ed. Brian Moses, Macmillan, 1998).

I love this poem, conjuring up as it does long forgotten memories of participating in the school Nativity Play. Not that I ever had a starring role, I hasten to add, my only ever role being as the inn keeper’s wife which only had one short line. Hardly a distinguished theatrical career.

The poem features several small boys in the role of ‘Herod’s Henchmen’, which no doubt required lots of parental assistance in the form of cardboard and tinfoil accessories. All of that charging around the school hall sounds great fun (not that fun was exactly the point of it all I suppose). But it probably burnt off excess end of term excitement in the process.

I have extracted three verses to give you a flavour of the activity:

King Herod

King Herod by James Tissot


1, I’m one of Herod’s Henchmen.
    We don’t have much to say,
   We charge through the audience
    In a Henchman sort of way.

3, Our swords are made of cardboard
    So blood will not be spilled
    If we trip and stab a parent
    When the hall’s completely filled.

6, Yet when the play is over
    And Miss is out of breath
    We’ll charge like Henchmen through the hall
    And scare our Mums to death.

Of course, the sting behind the title of the poem is that a whole multitude of sins may be glossed over by employing the excuse of ‘just doing my job’. A lesson for children to learn while they enjoy reading the poem.

The striking painting of Herod the Great dates from 1886-1894 and is in the Brooklyn Museum (image courtesy of Wikipedia).


Advent Reading Challenge: Three Kings

16th December

Three Kings Came Riding by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) another poem taken from The Book of Christmas

This is a long poem of fourteen verses telling the story of the journey of the Three Kings (Wise Men or Magi) to find the new saviour. I have known the poem since my own childhood and well remember the sense of romance about these mysterious figures making such a long journey. I also recall being absolutely baffled as to what frankincense and myrrh actually were.

I have just picked three verses to give a potted version of the story. The men set out following the star:

The Magi Journeying

The Magi Journeying (Les Rois Mages en Voyages)

1) Three Kings came riding from far away,

Melchior and Gaspar and Baltasar;

Three Wise Men out of the East were they,

And they travelled by night and they slept by day,

For their guide was a beautiful, wonderful star.

Along the way the travellers talk to people they meet of the child, and so Herod the Great hears.

He asks the Wise Men to bring him news from Bethlehem:

8) So they rode away; and the star stood still,

The only one in the grey of the morn;

Yes, it stopped it stood still of its own free will,

Right over Bethlehem on the hill,

The city of David where Christ was born.

The Three Kings found their way to the baby’s birth place and gave their gifts:

The Book of Christmas

The Book of Christmas

12) They laid their offerings at his feet;

The gold was their tribute to a King,

The frankincense, with its odour sweet,

Was for the Priest, the Paraclete,

The myrrh for the body’s burying.

After worshiping the new child, the Three Kings rode away and headed back to their homes in the East. They were wise enough not to return to King Herod, but travelled home a different way.

The painting here is by James Tissot which is in the Brooklyn Museum (image taken from Wikipedia).