C = cow D = donkey
C Moooo. Isn’t it nice and quiet here in the stable tonight?
D He haw. Yes. Not like last year – wasn’t it noisy?
C Terrible, you couldn’t hear the cock crow.
D It was an odd thing wasn’t it?
C When the humans decided to count themselves.
D They call it a census.
C It didn’t make much sense to me.
D Every man had to go back to the place where he was born
C And take his family with him.
D The town was full.
C The hotels were full.
D The pubs were full.
C Even the school hall was full of people who couldn’t find anywhere else to sleep.
D And our stable was packed.
C All those donkeys, and oxen and cows and sheep and goats that people had brought with them.
D I couldn’t move to find a post to scratch my ears.
C I couldn’t swing my horns without knocking someone else’s teeth out.
CD All those animals.
C And some of them talked with strange accents.
D Donkeys that went ‘A-hee, a-haw’.
C Cows that went ‘Hu-mooo.’
D Very odd, very full,
C Very noisy and very smelly.
D Then just when we didn’t think we could get anyone else in the stable
C In walked another donkey, with a very strange accent.
D I couldn’t understand a word he said. All his sentences ended with ‘innit’.
C A Nazareth donkey – small town, miles away.
D And he wasn’t alone, he’d brought with him
D To our stable. A man and a woman.
C There wasn’t anywhere else in the town for them to stay.
D They did look very tired.
C And the woman was about to have a baby.
D They had only just got here in time.
C They needed some space.
D I said ‘Shove up’ to a donkey that went ‘A-he, a-haw’, and the donkey said ‘A-shove up’ to a goat
C And the goat said ‘shift up’ to an ox and the ox said ‘Humph, make some space’ to a sheep
D And the sheep said ‘baa baa-udge up’ to a cow, and the cow said ‘you’ve got to moove it, moove it’
to another goat
C And the goat just turned and stared at us and said ‘you talking to me?’
D But by then there was room in the middle of the stable,
C So the man and the woman –
D Mary and Joseph –
C Flopped down in the hay
D And the baby was born.
C His name was Jesus.
D They used a feeding trough for his cradle.
C He opened his eyes, looked around at us all,
D Sheep and goats, donkeys, cows and oxen.
C We all went ‘Shhhhhhhh’,
D The stable was silent
C And the baby went ‘Waaaaaaaaaaaaaa’,
D As babies do.
C Except that it sounded like the most beautiful music we had ever heard.
D In our hearts we all knew
C That God was with us in the stable that night.
D This baby was king of all the world.
C We all settled down to sleep.
D Trying not to snore in case we woke the baby.
C But we needn’t have bothered trying to be quiet
D Because no sooner had we got to sleep
C Than we were woken up by some sheep
D Banging on the door, trying to get in.
C Not just one sheep or two sheep or three sheep or four
D But a whole flock of sheep,
C Baaing and bunting and bleating.
D And not just sheep, but shepherds too.
C They had come to see the king of all the world
D While the shepherds were cooing and ooing over the baby
C Some of the sheep told us their story.
D It was a starry night, when the hills were bright,
C The sheep were sleeping
D When the sky was filled with light and singing,
C It was if all the bells of heaven were ringing.
D The sheep and the shepherds
C Were shivering with fear.
D There were angels in the air,
C Angels, angels everywhere.
D They told the shepherds not to be afraid,
C That God’s son had just been born on earth,
D That God’s love was living in their town
C And that they must come and meet him.
D So they gathered up their wits,
C They gathered up their sheep,
D They rushed to find the promised king,
C And here they were, filling our stable,
D You couldn’t swish your tail
C Without swatting someone else on the nose.
D Later on, when the shepherds had left, with their sheep,
C And all the people had been counted and gone home,
D Taking their animals with them.
C When it was just us left in the stable with Mary and Joseph and Jesus
D And the donkey who went ‘innit’,
C We had some more visitors,
C They were big, they were tall, they were dusty from the desert.
D You had to be careful where you looked when they were talking
C Because they chewed and spat and spoke all at the same time.
D I got something nasty right in my eye.
C The people they brought with them were dressed in fine, bright clothes.
D They were very excited to see the baby.
C The camels told us that the people were wise and learned,
D They studied the skies and had seen
C A new star rise in the west.
D It told of a new baby being born
C Who would be king of all the world.
D So they loaded their camels with luggage for a long trip.
C They spent weeks crossing the desert,
D Following the star which shone before them, leading the way
C Until it stopped over our stable.
D And here they were
C Just like the shepherds
D cooing and ooing over the baby.
C But they brought him gifts.
D Gold and frankincense and myrrh,
C Although I think his mother would rather have had nappies.
D Then they went home.
C Soon after that Mary and Joseph and Jesus
D And the donkey who went ‘innit’
C Left for a new place to stay.
D The stable was quiet once more, the town was quiet, the sky was quiet.
C That was last year. Do you think we will hear about that baby again?
D I’m sure we will, after all
CD He is king of all the world!
Richard Greatrex, 2016