Sunday, 11 December 2011

of Mary's encounter with the angel Gabriel

This evening I told the story of Mary’s annunciation at Rosefield’s Alive @ 5 interactive Christmas. 
I found it interesting that whenever I rehearsed the story, I almost cried at Mary’s acceptance of God’s invitation to participate in the incarnation, but didn’t quite get there any of the half a dozen times I told the story tonight. But then that does sometimes happen – the emotion is more under control in front of an audience. I was disappointed, though, because it felt right to feel that response of shock, awe and wonder after the words from Gabriel: ‘anything is possible with God’.  I would do this sharp intake of breath, as this 14 or 15 year old girl realises what she’s being invited to do, that God has chosen her, that this is actually almost incomprehensible.

I took out the opening words ‘in the sixth month’ as they seemed to refer to the earlier passage talking about Elizabeth’s pregnancy, and here I was just telling Mary’s story. the angel mentions Elizabeth being in her 6th month anyway, so the reference is there later, and more clearly. I also switched into an active tense rather than passive – so rather than the angel Gabriel was sent by God, I said ‘God sent the angel Gabriel.’ So as well as being active, which is better practice for storytelling today, I also put God front and centre as the instigator, the one acting, in the story. which I think is important, as these events are all at God’s instigation, out of God’s grace – coming amongst us, choosing Mary, sending the angel …
I condensed the story of here visit to Elizabeth, and led into Leigh Newton singing a version of the magnificat he wrote, which worked really well. I had felt as I rehearsed, that the magnificat should be sung, that the way I had crafted the segway was leading into music. I could have told the whole thing, but I think it was better to have it sung. And in the light of the short amount of time we had, it meant that more time was given to music, which probably also worked well. I wonder if I had told the magnificat, if I might have found a contemporary English translation more appropriate than the NRSV I usually use. The words of Leigh’s song – which of course I can’t recall accurately now – put Mary’s praise of God’s feeding the hungry, remembering the poor, into this sort of language, rather than lifting up the lowly, which would have been meaningful at one time, but loses an audience rather quickly today. Especially for the number of folk who come to such gatherings as this one from outside Christian community and tradition, and don’t know the language.

The telling changed a bit for me with different sized audiences – because most of them were small, I made my voice a bit small, and brought the power from the voice not the diaphragm, so my voice is feeling quite strained now. From a technical point of view, this is important learning – and I may need to seek out a voice coach to help develop & nurture techniques of projection, using the diaphragm even when I don’t want a ‘big’ voice. Then Leigh did one more song for us – the musos and a couple of volunteers – and was pleased to hear that, though this song isn’t used very much, it has been sung in recent years at my former home church. He also did an Australian Christmas story in verse, which was great. I wondered about learning something like that myself …  

1 comment:

Leigh Newton said...

Found your blog and thought I would post some lyrics here. As my lyrics are on a different computer at my weekend-home I can't do it straight away. I was looking for my own lyrics on line as my web page is down. If you contact me on I'll send you When The Angel Came and The Christmas Pub, which you mentioned (the poem/yarn).