Friday, 23 July 2021

Shiplake nativity inspired by St Francis

ABOUT 500 people attended a Nativity play held in a stable at Shiplake Farm, writes James Burton

ABOUT 500 people attended a Nativity play held in a stable at Shiplake Farm, writes James Burton.

Guests sat on bales of hay to watch the free performance by members of the united churches of Shiplake, Dunsden and Harpsden.

They were given mulled wine and mince pies before going inside, where they were welcomed by Rev Michael Forrer, who gave a blessing.

Rev Pam Gordon narrated the hour-long show with a poem telling the story of Creation and Jesus? birth. Regular worshippers Nicola Judd and Duncan Whale, of Farm Road, Henley, played Mary and Joseph.

The cast were accompanied by children from the three villages, who dressed as shepherds, angels and farmyard animals.

Between scenes, everyone stood up to sing Christmas hymns and carols including Away In A Manger, While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.

The singing was led by the churches? choristers, who were dressed as angels, and pianist Stuart Colam, who also performed a song he wrote called If I Told A Story.

When the congregation sang Little Donkey, a Shetland pony called Max and a miniature donkey called Marble were brought on to the stage. They were provided by mobile farm Basil and Crew, from Maidenhead.

During Away In A Manger, children were given fluorescent ?glow sticks? to symbolise the news of Jesus? arrival spreading far and wide. They were also given hand-held bells to use.

The event, now in its second year, was inspired by St Francis of Assisi, who held the first Nativity play in 1223 with live animals.

It was organised by Maggie Atkinson, of Queen Street, Henley, with a team of about 60 volunteers.

The barn usually contains cattle and large stacks of hay but was cleared out the night before by farmer Stephen Doble.

There were two performances last Sunday, both of which were attended by about 250 people.

Rev Gordon said: ?I?m thrilled that so many people came. It was pretty full in there with people of all ages. There was a lovely family atmosphere and everyone was truly enjoying it. We?re incredibly grateful to Mr Doble for the use of the barn.?

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