Archive for Nativity

Born this day

Shepherds and angel glory

The Christ Child as told by Matthew and Luke
Made by Maud and Miska Petersham
Doubleday and Co., 1931.


Christ Child Petersham crop

The Christ Child as told by Matthew and Luke
Made by Maud and Miska Petersham
Doubleday and Co., 1931.



Methinks I see an heav’nly host
Of angels on the wing;
Methinks I hear their cheerful notes
So merrily they sing.

Let all your fears be banish’d hence,
Glad tidings I proclaim;
For there’s a Savior born today,
And Jesus is his name.

Lay down your crooks, and quit your flocks,
To Bethlehem repair;
And let your wand’ring steps be squar’d
By yonder shining star.

Seek not in courts or palaces,
Nor royal curtains draw;
But search the stable, see your God
Extended on the straw.

Then suddenly a heav’nly host
Around the shepherds throng,
Exulting in the threefold God
And thus address their song.

To God the Father, Christ the Son,
And Holy Ghost ador’d;
The first and last, the last and first,
Eternal praise afford.

Shiloh by William Billings, 1746-1800


Billings NewEnglandPsalms00bill_0008  Billings Newenglandpsalms title page bill_0009



B is for Bethlehem

A is for Augustus Illustration by Elisa Kleven

A is for Augustus
Illustration by Elisa Kleven
from B is for Bethlehem: A Christmas Alphabet by Isabel Wilner.

Jesus is coming! And that means it’s time to get out the bathrobes and head scarves and dust off those angel wings. Whether your church stages a well-practiced drama or holds a “come-on-the-day” pageant, Nativity plays are part of a tradition going back to the middle ages. If we don’t get all caught up in the politics of who gets to play Mary, they can be a lot of fun.

Here are two pictures from B is for Bethlehem: A Christmas Alphabet by Isabel Wilner and illustrated by Elisa Kleven–a lovely, imaginative telling of the Christmas story that works well as a pageant script or as a book to share with little people.  V is for Venite, but I won’t reveal what they do for X, Y, and Z.

F is for Flocks

F is for Flocks
Illustration by Elisa Kleven
from B is for Bethlehem: A Christmas Alphabet by Isabel Wilner.

Just a few more…

Viet Nam

Cote D’Ivoire

Cote D’Ivoire

Virginia Craft Fair Creche

Just right for small hands

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

Though most folks don’t consider me a sentimental person, there is one picture book that makes me cry every time I read it–The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski. It’s a story of death, and loss, and transformation. When a bitter woodcarver agrees to make a replacement nativity for a widow and her young son, he finds that he must deal with the innocent persistence of childhood. As readers, we find ourselves caught between real sorrow and real hope: death and separation, life and relationship. What is the truth of this world?

It’s a terrific book with beautiful, sensitive illustrations by P. J. Lynch. I hear it’s been made into both a play and a movie, but I find I don’t even want to see the adaptations. It’s complete as it is.  If you were here, we could read it together and think about all the wonderful nativities we’ve shared this season.  We could talk about why these figures become so precious to us, and why we bring them out, year after year.  And then, maybe we could talk about the mysteries of Christmas and the incarnation, and how we get a little closer to understanding the reality of hope and joy in this life every time we set up the manger.


Latin American Creches

It’s Christmas Eve. There’s a baby on the way! Are you ready?

In these last few hours of Advent, I thought I would share a few final pictures.  I received a number of pictures of Latin American manger scenes from friends and family.  Here are the ones I haven’t already posted.





Most likely Peru








Empire Nativity

I was so excited when a friend sent me this photo of her vintage 1960s Empire Nativity. These blow mold figures–hollow molded plastic–were very popular back in the days when most every house put up Christmas lights and no one worried about energy consumption. Then, and now, it said something when you put a manger scene in your yard. Something a little gentler, but no less definite, than today’s “Jesus is the reason for the season.”



Dime store Holy Family

A tender moment

Cats in the Manger


The only manger scene I have that includes cats.

Playmobil creche


South Carolina Nativity


Handcarved wooden Nativity from South Carolina.

Stable or church? Not many manger scenes include a cross.

Native American Holy Family

 North American Plains Nativity

This reminds me the “Huron Carol” which is sung here in Wendat (Huron) by Heather Dale.


You might also enjoy this performance of “Silent Night” by C. Littleleaf on Native American flute.