Carol of the Common Man

by Glenn A. Hascall

Summary

After a family is visited by carolers they begin to discuss how some of those carols came about. 
They are surprised to learn a little bit about The First Noel. Based on research regarding the carol. 
Cast # 2 are fictional as no single person has been named as the writer of this carol.

SETTING: A home in typical Christmas decor. Also a 16th century outdoor
market with four peasants.

Cast # 1

STEPHANIE: The oldest of two sisters visiting their Grandpa at Christmas
NYANA: The youngest of two sisters visiting Grandpa.
SCOTT: A know-it-all older brother to Stephanie and Nyana
GRANDPA: A storyteller who delights in The First Noel

Cast # 2

MURDO: A 16th century peasant, friend of Duncan
DUNCAN: A fictional character who we use as the writer of The First Noel.
ALEXIUS: A 16th century peasant, friend of Duncan
ANGUS or CAITLIN: friends of Duncan

Script

Scene One
Two Teenage girls (13-15) are looking out a pretend window -
stage left - as carolers sing (the carolers are not seen). Scott, the 17-19 year old
scholarly brother sits in a chair reading, seemingly unaffected by the music.
Grandpa Tanner sits in a comfortable chair and closes his eyes listening to
the music and humming along. The song The First Noel is sung and the girls
wave and say goodbye as the carolers leave.

GRANDPA: (Addresses the girls) You know, that has to be my favorite
Christmas carol. I remember when...

SCOTT: (Interrupts) What? The First Noel? Itís not even accurate -
theologically speaking that is.

NYANA: (Upset with her brother, seeking to defend her grandpa) Be quiet
Scott, I like that song.

STEPHANIE: Me too.

GRANDPA: No, itís all right girls. Scott is right. There are some parts of
the song that say something different than the Bible says.

SCOTT: See, I told you.

STEPHANIE: I guess Iíve never really caught whatís wrong with it.

SCOTT: Well...

NYANA: (Interrupts) I believe Stephanie was talking to Grandpa, Scott.

(Silence)

GRANDPA: Well, take for instance the line that indicates that the shepherds
saw the star and followed it to Bethlehem.

NYANA: They saw the angels...

SCOTT: But not the star.

GRANDPA: Thatís right.

STEPHANIE: So, if itís wrong why do you like it so much?

GRANDPA: Itís the story behind the song that I like so much. (Girls sit down
to listen) That carol was first published in the 1830ís....

SCOTT: (Interrupts) 1833.

GRANDPA: (Sighs) Yes, 1833. But its story goes back perhaps as early as the
1500s. Itís unclear whether the song originated in England or France.
However, back then, only the priests could read the Bible. The common man
was left to pick up bits and pieces of Godís Word through sermons. Often the
common folk werenít allowed in the church.

STEPHANIE: Thatís rude.

GRANDPA: Yes, it surely was. Most men could not read and education was only
for the wealthy. You know, it doesnít seem possible that an uneducated
peasant could write such a memorable song, yet, that is the story behind the
First Noel.

(The First Noel plays in the background as the stage fades to Scene Two)
(Setting: A street market with a stall for bread and one for eggs)

DUNCAN: (Addressing Alexius) A loaf of your finest, dear Alexius.

ALEXIUS: (Giggles) Oh, Duncan. Such a high and mighty disposition for a
farmer.

DUNCAN: Perhaps, but there is, within this weather hardened exterior, the
heart of a poet, maí lady.

ALEXIUS: (Excited) Oh, I love poetry, Duncan. Do you know some?

DUNCAN: I am laboring over one right now.

ANGUS: You canít write, Duncan. None of us can.

DUNCAN: Simply because we are peasants, does not mean that we can not use
our ears or mind. Does it?

MURDO: What have you heard that causes you to think poetic thoughts?

DUNCAN: (Gathers in close and says in a stage whisper) I stood outside the
Cathedral doors this Sabbath past. I heard the most wondrous things about Jesu.

ALEXIUS: (Gasps) The Christ?

DUNCAN: One and the same.

MURDO: Why were you not rebuked?

DUNCAN: I left before they came out.

MURDO: Clever Duncan.

ALEXIUS: Tell us what you learned.

DUNCAN: I have come to know something of the Blessed Jesuís birth and there
is a song in my heart that will soon find a voice. When it does, I will share it with you.

GRANDPA: (Not visible but heard off stage as all Cast # 2, except ALEXIUS
leave stage) Months pass and as Christís Mass - the church celebration of
the Savior's birth - arrived for another year, Duncan was ready to share his
new song.

DUNCAN: (Walks in quickly - excited) My dear, Alexius, my poem has been
written on the tablet of my heart and I will share the words with you now.
(Enter Angus and Murdo)

ALEXIUS: How wonderful, Duncan. Say it for all of us.

(The First Noel should play softly in the background as Duncan recites his
poem)

DUNCAN: The first noel the angels did say
                   Was to certain poor shepherds in field as they lay
                   In fields where they lay keeping their sheep,
                   On a cold winters night that was so deep

                   Noel. noel, noel, noel
                   Born is the king of Israel

(MUSIC STOPS ABRUPTLY)

DUNCAN: There is more to it, but thatís the start.

ALEXIUS: And a grand start it is Duncan.

ANGUS: Where did you learn so much about the Christís birth?

DUNCAN: As I told you before I listened to the priest.

ANGUS: But what of the Holy writings, you have not read them.

DUNCAN: (Looks forlorn) This is true. I would give anything to read Godís
Holy Words, but the life to which I was born only allow me to use my ears to
learn and it is the fruit of listening that I give back to God with my song.

ALEXIUS: You said that angels came to the shepherds?

DUNCAN: Thatís a wondrous part of this story, dear Alexius. God could have
asked the angels to go to the King or governor, but He didnít. He sent the
angels to tell shepherds.

ANGUS: Peasants.

DUNCAN: Exactly. (Pause as if it should make sense - then speaks in
exasperation) Donít you see? Blessed Jesu did not come just for the rich or
for men of high standing. He came for people like me. People like you. (Gets
excited) He was born in a stable, not in a palace. His mother was the wife
of a carpenter - not a governor. He came for all of us. Is it any wonder I
sing a new song?

ALEXIUS: Could you teach your song to us, Duncan?

DUNCAN: (Hesitates and then gets excited) Well, All right then.

GRANDPA: (Still off stage) Soon Alexius, Murdo and Angus had learned the
song and as they sang together in the marketplace others joined them.

(Cast # 2 begin to sing The First Noel a cappella, others walk into the
marketplace drawn by the song and join in the singing - when itís done the
cast stand quietly in wonder at the beauty of Jesus birth - Fade to black -
Cast # 1 back on stage)

GRANDPA: So, you see The First Noel was the working manís Christmas song. 
A true Blue Collar Carol. (Chuckles - although the grandchildren donít get
it - clears throat) In any event, even though the star did not lead the shepherds to the manger,
this song has led many common folk to the birthplace of a king.

NYANA: So, when did they start singing it in church, Grandpa?

GRANDPA: Long after the writer of this carol passed on. In fact it would be
over 300 years before it would be sung in church.

STEPHANIE: Thatís like - forever.

GRANDPA: Well, at the very least, a long time. Children would often sing the
song as a round. (Pause) By the time it was published in the 1800ís it had
become such a well known carol that the Church of England included it in
their services with the enthusiastic support of the congregation.

SCOTT: I donít understand how an illiterate, uneducated man could write a
song with errors in it and find such success.

GRANDPA: I think it had more to do with who he was writing about than what
his qualifications were to write the song. He wrote it from a heart that
longed to know that Baby, and he sang with a heart of joy. Perhaps it is that
enthusiasm for Christ that has made it such a favorite carol for so many
generations. (Pause) Including mine.

(Grandpa starts singing The First Noel and is quietly joined by Cast # 2 off
stage.)
.............................................
Copyright 2001 by Glenn A. Hascall & CMI Publishing
If you use any of these scripts would you please be so kind as to let us know? glenn.hascall<a>gmail.com