Saturday, December 19, 2009

PTSW - What Can I Give Him?

Jack invited me to his church to see him in their Christmas pageant. It isn't often that a fourth-grader so formally asks my presence at a weekend event. I asked if he had lines, yes, he admitted, several. He didn't mention a song. He seemed so serious, yet humble in his request, I thought I'd do it. As Sheila and I were waiting for our soup and sandwich lunches at Panera today Jack & his mom popped up to repeat his request and I decided to really make the effort. I'm so glad I did.

The large Baptist church is nearly filled this Sunday night. The center chancel area is stacked with three tall tiers for a choir of about thirty. An inn door is erected on stage left and the adjacent stable at stage right. The lighting, sound, costumes, and sets are elaborate.

The pastor talks with a small group of children about the Christmas story as the lights reveal Isaiah for a monologue, then the desperate couple wander through the congregation seeking a room, finally having to settle for the stable. Gabriel startles everyone with sudden appearances. Between scenes the choir beautifully sings "Lo, How a Rose" and "Silent Night" and other carols. Then the shepherds are surprised by Gabriel and his host (the choir). Jack is the smallest shepherd. My quiet 9-year-old student delivers his lines with conviction and abandon! .. and even humor.

When the other shepherds visit the stable, someone must stay with the sheep. Jack's lack of seniority, I suppose, condemns him to that role. And that's when I get my surprise. He gets to imagine what he would present the newborn king with Christina Rosetti's words as he sings an excerpt (the last two stanzas I think) of the beautiful poem/carol "In the Bleak Mid-winter".
In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.
- Christina Rossetti
I would like to have found a solo version of the song for you, but I didn't care for those I could find on YouTube. Here is the Gloucester Cathedral Choir with a very nice bonus Sunday Concert in honor of Jack:

(First post 12-15-2008)

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