Night Of The Animals
By Paulette Callen

From all-creatures.org
SPIRITUAL AND
INSPIRATIONAL
POETRY ARCHIVES

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Night Of The Animals
By Paulette Callen

A Christmas Eve Reading
(for 8 voices and congregation)

VOICE 1
I am the black snake
coiled under the straw
in the corner of the stable.
I stay well hidden
for people despise me.
I don’t have a pretty face.
I am afraid of the man
who came with the woman.
(She is tired
having had a long journey—
so the donkey tells me.)
Now the man comes close
and drops his bundles in this corner.
I have no chance to slip away!
He sees me here
coiled. I wait in fear
for him to strike me with his staff.
I have no chance to slip away.
But—he smiles and says,
“I see. This is your space, friend.
I’ll put my bundles over there.”

VOICE 2
I am the mouse who lives in a hollowed-out place in the manger hay.
People despise me.
I dart here and there to keep out of their way.
I keep hidden and quiet
So I will not frighten the woman.
She has come a long way
(so the donkey tells me).
But the man reaches deep
In the manger and picks up the hay
For the donkey. I barely escape
And fall back down.
I am afraid
For they know now I am here.
But, the woman says,
“Careful, Joseph.
Don’t hurt that mouse.”

VOICE 3
I am the gray spider
Who sees from my silver web
High in the corner of the stable
A man and a woman come to rest
After a long, long journey
(the donkey tells me this).
I keep in the shadows for
I don’t have a pretty face.
But now! I step out
Upon my quivering web
To see what the wonder is
For I hear the heavens singing
And the oceans, too, from far away,
And there, below me,
A small one opens His eyes.
He looks straight up at me.
I think
He smiles at me.

VOICE 4
I am the brown bat
That hangs from the rafters
Of the stable. I sleep
In the shadows and fly in the night.
For people despise me.
I don’t have a pretty face.
I come home to the solitude and safety
Of my rafters, but I see them
In the stable—a man
Q woman, a babe, and a donkey.
I flutter in the doorway.
I don’t know what to do.
I can’t stay out here
For the day will come,
And if I say out here
People will kill me with stones,
And I cannot go in
For I am afraid.
The woman looks up at me
Fluttering in the doorway.
She says, “Come in, little one.
The s your home. We are only visitors
And will not disturb you too much.”

VOICES 1,2,3,4 IN UNISON
We raise our heads
And creep out of the shadows,
For we hear the heavens ringing
And the oceans, too, from faraway,
And we know.
And we gather at the feet of the woman and the babe.
They do not drive us away
Even though we are despised.
The woman says, “Joseph, look.
They’ve come to see.
Aren’t they lovely?”

VOICE 1
Me! The snake.

VOICE 4
Me! The bat.

VOICE 3
Me! The spider.

VOICE 2
Me! The mouse.

VOICES 1-4 IN UNISON
Lovely!!
We gather to see the Babe, the Creator’s Appointed One.

VOICE 5
The animals know when the storm will break.

VOICE 6
The animals know when the earth will quake.

VOICE 7
And the animals new that He was coming,
The Creator’s Appointed One.

VOICE 5
They didn’t need the angels to tell them.

ALL VOICES 1-7
Because animals know such things.

LEADER
The camels needed no rein to tell them where to go.

RESPONSE(congregation)
The Wise Men were not so wise. They needed the star.

LEADER
The goats needed no gathering, the sheep no herding. They were ready to come down from the hills.

RESPONSE
With or without the shepherds.

LEADER
And what of those who were not in Bethlehem?

RESPONSE (congregation)
Of course, they knew when the Babe was born, the Creator’s Appointed One.

LEADER
When the Babe was born, the Creator’s Appointed One

RESPONSE (congregation)
The whales began to sing.

LEADER
From waters warm to waters cold

RESPONSE (congregation)
The oceans rang with song beneath the crystal sky.

LEADER
When the Babe was born, the Creator’s Appointed One.

RESPONSE (congregation)
The cats began to purr. A rumble spread across the earth.

LEADER
Little cats in barns and window sills, jungle cats, tree cats, mountain cats, the big cats of the savannah, all began to purr

RESPONSE (congregation)
And purred until the earth vibrated with joy.

LEADER
The wolves threw back their heads and raised their voices to the sky.

RESPONSE (congregation)
Some howled under a rising moon.

LEADER
Some into the sun, some to the star itself. They sang for joy.

RESPONSE
For the birth of the Babe, the Creator’s Appointed One.

LEADER
Butterflies in many colors took flight.

RESPONSE (congregation)
And made fluttering rainbows across the skies.

LEADER
The frogs drummed in the ponds

RESPONSE (congregation)
The crickets clicked from tall grasses

LEADER
Birds filled the treetops with sweet music

RESPONSE (congregation)
When the Babe was born, the Creator’s Appointed One.

ALL VOICES IN UNISON INCLUDING CONGREGATION
The valleys, the mountains, the woods, the grasslands, the seas, and the skies rang out, for the animals knew of the birth of the Babe, the Creator’s Appointed One.

LEADER
Horses neighed and stamped in pride that one of their own cousins had carried the Babe.

RESPONSE (congregation)
And would carry Him again as a man

ALL VOICES IN UNISON
The animals knew.

LEADER
The gorillas poised silently

RESPONSE (congregation)
Under the green canopy of their mountain home

LEADER
For they knew and were quiet, with only the beating of their great, gentle hearts to resonate joy

RESPONSE (congregation)
at the birth of the Babe, the Creator’s Appointed One.

ALL VOICES IN UNISON
The animals knew.

VOICE 8
And they knew why He came as a human and not as one of them; for humans are a needy bunch and what they need most is teaching.

VOICE 7
Humans need to be taught faithfulness

RESPONSE (congregation)
For it does not come naturally to them as to the wolf

VOICE 6
Humans need to be taught justice

RESPONSE (congregation)
For it does not come naturally to them as to the elephant

VOICE 5
Humans need to be taught wisdom

RESPONSE (congregation)
For it does not come naturally to them as to the bear.

VOICE 4
Humans need to be taught forgiveness

RESPONSE (congregation)
For it does not come naturally to them as to the cow.

VOICE 3
Humans need to be taught a way to find our own peace

RESPONSE (congregation)
For it does not come naturally to us as to the other animals.

VOICE 2
And so was born the Chosen One

VOICE 1
The Anointed One

VOICES 1-7
The Son

VOICE 8
To teach us all the things the animals know
But humans have forgotten