A Black Country Nativity (Michael Prescott, 1968)

The following was originally published in the British Regional newspaper, The Express & Star, in 1968, by Michael Prescott, a Sunday School teacher who had moved to England’s Black Country region, and was taken by the region’s dialect.  He had his students tell Bible stories in their own words, and recorded them as follows:

There was this girl called Mary and er lived in a place called Nazareth. One day er mum went out an er was left do do the ousewerk.

All a sudden the room went all bright and when er turned round er saw somebody standin by the winder. Er wor arf surprised and nearly fell off er chair.

“Oom you?” er asked, “yo day arf gie me a tern.”

“Doh be scared,” answered the bloke. “I wo urt ya. Me name’s Gabriel, an arm an angel.”

“Yo ay, am yer?” said Mary.

“I am,” ee replied. “An I’ve cum to tell ya summat.

“What?” said Mary, cause er was thinking what a carry on this was.

“Yo’m gooin ter av a babby,” said the angel.

That shook er, and er looked at im an said: “Doh be saft. I ay marrid.”

“That do mek no difference,” ee answered. “If God says yo’ll av a babby, yo’ll ava a babby, yo will an that’s it. Yo’ve got ter call im Jesus.”

Mary was still a bit shook, so the angel said: “An arl tell yer summat else. Yo ay the only one oos gooin to ave a babby. Yer cousin Elizabeth is gooin ter ave one an all, an er’s an old woman.”

“Well, if you say so, ar suppose that’s it,” said Mary. “Ar cor do anythin about it, but me chap wo arf be surprised.”

When eed gone, Mary sat fer a bit an thought about it, then er med up er mind to goo and see Elizabeth. So er ad a swill an went off ter Juda.

When er got there, Elizabeth was waiting at the gate an when er saw Mary er said: “Ar ay arf glad to see yo, but fancy yo cummin to see we in yor state.”

Mary answered: “An angel cum an sid me, an arm gooin to av a babby in December.”

They went into the ouse an Elizabeth med a cup of tay. Er told Mary that er old man, Zacharias, day believe er when er told him about th3e babby, an ee were speechless. “Ee cor spake a werd now,” er said.

The chap what mary was engaged to was called Joseph. When Mary told im about the babby er was having, ee day knwo what to think. Ee said: “Yor mum wo arf kick up a chow row. Er’s bound to blame me. An they wo arf rattle down our street. It ay good enough.”

Any road, ee day get is air off, an when ee went ter bed that night, an angel cum to im in a dream. “Doh get mad at Mary about the babby,” ee told im. “It’s God’s son er’s avin, an is name’s Jesus. Sumbody’s got ter av im, or ee wo get born, an yower Mary was picked. So just yo marry er, me mate. There ay nuthin ter worry about.”

Soon after they was married, Joseph cum in an told Mary: “Arv ad a letter from the tax mon, and that Ceasar of owrn says as we’ve got to goo to wheer we was born to be taxed. So we’ve go to traipse all the way to Bethlehem next wick.”

Mary cut sum sandwiches an packed a few cairkes an opples. Then er med a bottle a tay, (then the thermoses then) an when they’d ad a daysent breakfast, Joseph got the donkey out, put Mary on, an away they went.

“Cheer up, our kid. It ay far now,” Joseph told er.

“Yo can see teh lapms in Bethlehem down the road. We’ll soon av a rest. I shore be sorry neither. I keep gettin bricks an sond in me sandals.”

When they got into town, Joseph knocked on the door of an inn an asked for a double room. The bloke what answered said: “I cor elp yer,. There’s that mony on em eere they’m avin ter sleep in the passage.”

The next un was like it an all, but Joseph said to the chap: “Aint there anywhere we can goo? My missus is out theer on a donkey, an er’s gooin ter av a babby soon.”

The chap scratched his yed, then ee ad an idea. Ee said: “We cleaned the stable out after tay, so it ay mucky. If I shift a couple of osses an a camel, you could kip down theer.”

Joseph day even bother to ask Mary. Ee said: “We’ll tek it,” straight off.

In the noight, Mary woke Joseph up an said: “The babby’s ere.” So Jesus was born, an they wrapped im up tight an put im in the manger what the osses et out on. Mary an Joseph wor arf proud. the innkeeper cum with is missus an brought Mary sum ot milk.

They thought Jesus was a bostin little lad an the innkeeper said to Joseph: “Yo’d better cum an av a drink to wet is yed.” So he did. The innkeeper’s wife told em all: “There’s a woman out theer just ad a babby,” er said,”an if ony o yo lot kick up a racket, yo’m out.”

Up in the ills, there was sum shepherds luckin after the sheep. It was cold, so they was sittin by the fire lettin their dogs do the werk while they ad summat to eat an a smoke.

Suddenly the sky lit up loike bonfire noight, an an angel cum. They day know owt about angels and they was that frittened they all fell on the ground.

“Yo’m a silly lot,” said the angel. “I shore urt yer. I got a message for yer. There’s a baby bin born in Bethlehem. Is name is Jesus an ees God’s son. Goo an ave a look at im. Ee’s in a stable lyin in a manger.” The shepherds cum donw the ill into Bethleheman they kep on about the angels. One said: “Fancy angels cummin to we. We ay nobody. It ay as if we’m important.”

Another agreed an said: “It wor arf a good tune what hey sung, but I cor remember the words, con you?”

“Summat about glory an God in the ighest,” answered is mate. “When we get back we’ll try an get it writ down between we.” They must av or we wouldn’t know it.

Any road up, they cum to the town. One on em said: “It’s or roight im sayin we’ll find the babby in a stable, but they’m all over the plairce. We cud be looking for wicks.”

Is friend snapped at im: “Why doh yo shut yer moanin? Us two’ll look this soide, an yo pair look the other.” Another said: “It ay much use lookin in stables what’m shut. An if there’s a new babby, they’ll a the loight on.”

Then they eard their mates whistle an they fun em outside a stable built in a cave. Someone whispered: “Doh mek such a clatter. We’m ere.” One knocked on the door and Mary called: “Come in.” They took off their ats an went in on tip toe. The chief shepherd said: “Adoo missus. A angel tode we ter cum an see yower babby.”

Mary smiled and beckoned them in. Joseph said: “Eere ee is. Cum an look, but mind you doh breathe on is face.” The shepherds knelt down round the manger an looked. “Ay ee tiny?” said the youngest. “an ay ee got little onds?”

“Course ee’s tiny, yo saft ayporth,” said the leader, “ee’s new, ay ee?”

“I know that,” said the young un, “but you cor imagine God bein little, can yer?”

Mary smiled an said: “Oil spin sum wool an knit im a jumper, an is dad’ll play the flute ter mek him sleep.”

The shepherds turned to goo, an little Jesus smiled. The leader said after as it wind, an all babbies did it, but ee wor as sure as ee med out. While all this was a-gooin on, three wise kings was in a country far away lookin at stars. Suddenly, one on em put down is telescope an called: “cum eer yo lot. Oi’ve fun a star wot wor theer afore, and it ay arf a big un.”

“Yo’m roight mate,” they said then they looked. “Oil bet it’s that one what’s to tell us a new king was born.” They checked up an it was.

One day, they cum to Jerusalem an went up to the Palace an knocked on the door. A sentry opened it an they asked: “Is the King in?” The sentry said: “Arf a mo, Oil goo an see.”

The King’s name was Erod, an ee was in. “There’s three kings to see yo,” the soldier told im. “Oh ar?” said Erod. “Weer?” Ee ad a fit when the soldier told im “Outside.”

“Yo cor leave kings standin on the step,” said Erod. “Get em in.”

So they all come in, an Erod said ow noice to see em an wot cud ee do fer emn. they said they was looking fer a new king, and wondered if ee was theer.

Erod said: “Ee ay ere, but when yo’ve fun im, drop in on the way back so’s Oi can goo anay a look meself.”

They said “Righto,” an off they went. When they’d gone, Erod said to isself: “Theer’s ony room fer one king ere, an Oi’m it. When Oi know weer the new un is, Oi’ll have im killed.”

The star stopped over the ouse where Jesus was, an the kings day worry cos it wor a Palace. They went in an knelt down by Jesus an gid him their gold, frankincense and myrhh.

Mary looked at the presents an said: “Thank yo, they’m smashin, but Oi’ll keep em till ee’s bigger, if yo doh moind.” The kings took off their crowns and bowed.

Then they said: “Tarrah abit,” an went all the way back wum. But they day goo back past Erod’s palace cos a angel ad told em what a awful bloke Erod was, an ow ee wanted to kill the little Jesus.

Mysteries Come in Threes


Wherefore Saint Bernard declared there are here three miracles: that God and man should be joined in this Child; that a mother should remain a virgin; that Mary should have such faith as to believe that this mystery would be accomplished in her. The last is not the least of the three.  The Virgin birth is a mere trifle for God; that God should become man is a greater miracle; but most amazing of all is that this maiden should credit the announcement that she, rather than some other virgin had been chosen to be the mother of God.

Martin Luther, in Martin Luther’s Christmas Book, ed. Roland Bainton (Kindle Locations 133-143).

The State of the Blog, 12/12/2015

Hi all,

Things have been busy on my end recently, and I don’t want you to think that this has just become a place for me to re-post things I find interesting (though, of course, that is one of the aims of this site).  I just finished an online course in public speaking that has eaten up a surprising amount of my time, while at the same time, I’ve been working on developing a New Testament Greek curriculum (see the update Greek page for a new worksheet!) while also trying to finish a publication draft with a colleague.  Add to that Thanksgiving travel in the interim, spotty internet, interviews, and Christmas and Advent preparation, and it’s a busy season!

But, I want you to know that new, original(ish) content is on the way.  In the next week or so I hope to record a new chapter from Gerhard and post it over on the AudioGerhard/t Podcast page, with better audio quality than the first one.  I also have two articles for the site underway.  One, following a discussion I heard on the radio between two pastors about Christian responses to gun violence and the right to bear arms, hopes to look at Lutheran responses to the question of whether or not a Christian should bear arms or make use of deadly force (I started it a month ago, but it’s still quite relevant given recent events in the news).  The other looks at the annunciation to the shepherds in Luke 2, specifically at who those shepherds were and why it matters that they received the Good News first out of all people apart from the Holy Family.  I’m not holding myself to a timetable on these what with Advent going on now and Christmas coming, but I want to let you know they’re both on deck.

Anyway, I’m still here, plugging away.  Since tomorrow is Gaudete Sunday, here’s some appropriate music:


Reblogged: “Short and Good Counsel to be Frequently Considered by Those Who are in Deep Straits and Grievous Temptation”

The linked below is an excerpt from Wilhelm Löhe’s Seed-Grains of Prayer: A Manual for Evangelical Christians (trans. H. A. Weller, Benjamin T. Mayes; Orwigsburg (1916), Kansas City, Emmanuel Press (2006, 2010)) posted by my friend T. David on his blog at Pseudepigraphus last month (check it out–he finds a lot of great theological writing).

From Short and Good Counsel to be Frequently Considered by Those Who are in Deep Straits and Grievous Temptation:

141. Short and Good Counsel to be Frequently Considered by Those who are in Deep Straits and Grievous Temptation

1.) Stand not unto thyself, and govern thyself not according to thy feelings; for he that dependeth upon his own heart is a fool.

2.) Dwell not upon thine own thoughts nor sink and en- tangle thyself into them, else thou castest thyself into the camp of theenemy that besieges thy soul.

3.) Keep not thy sufferings thyself; but seek and confide fully and quickly in thy more experienced pastor.

4.) Cleave unto the words which are spoken to thee in God’s name. Consider them in thy heart. Repeat them again and again anddirect the thoughts and emotions of thy heart to them.

5.) Especially, let nothing make thee forget nor doubt these three passages:

a. The word of Isaiah, 49:14-16; concerning God’s faithful remembrance of us:

“Zion said, the Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that sheshould not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graventhee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.”

b. The word according to John 10:28; concerning the security of the soul in the hands of Jesus:

“I give unto my sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

c. The word according to Matthew 10:28-31; concerning the security of the body in the hands of Jesus:

“Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both souland body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without yourFather. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than manysparrows.”

6.) In moments of sore temptation, above all other times, neglect not the preaching of the Gospel, which is the power of God,rejoicing the soul.

7.) Neglect not to pray, even if it seem unto thee as if thou wert attempting to draw a load that is too heavy. James says, 5:13: “Isany among you afflicted? let him pray.” Especially pray the 51st Psalm, vv. I2-I4: “Uphold me with Thy free spirit;” and Psalm 142.

8.) When thou feelest as if courage were at an end, begin to sing Psalms and spiritual hymns. This is very offensive to Satan and exertsa wonderful power upon troubled souls. Especially to he recommended are the Hymns of Praise. The prayer of praise will oft’ attainwhat no prayer of entreating sighs may gain. At times it immediately draws one out of his distress. If thou canst not thyself sing, letothers sing for thee.

9.) When thou prayest take heed lest thou in any wise desire to be released of thy trial without or against the will of God. Sayjoyfully, or at least firmly, “If I shall drink this cup, dear Father, let Thy will be done.”

10.) Do not for one moment conceive that thou art the only one under so great trial. In Peter’s first Epistle, 4:12, thou learnest thatsuch trials are common; and, in the same Epistle, 5:8, 9, that like sufferings come upon thy brethren which are in the world. When aman begins to imagine that he alone is suffering, or that his sufferings are greater than those of others it is a sign of secret vanity.

11.) Thou shalt thank God for His visitation upon thee. Temptation teaches to give heed unto the Word, and blessed is the man thatendureth (James 1:2, 4, 12). Many one, if he but knew how great good unto him is hidden under his trials, would gladly giveup all his days of joy for them.

12.) Meet thy temptations not idly. Idleness breeds and multiplies many temptations which had otherwise never come, not abodelong if they came. Small is the hope for recovery of an able man tempted, if, when his temptation comes, he leaves the work of hiscalling undone or but half done.

13.) When thou art tempted, flee from solitude and seek the companionship of godly, joyful people. Few people can, without injuryto themselves, live constantly in great companies, and less are they who can live in constant solitude without harm. God created menfor each other.

14.) Many trials have their origin in a diseased body. If, therefore, an experienced pastor advises thee to seek the services of aphysician, do not neglect that advice; but use the treatment prescribed with a prayer for God’s benediction upon such use.

15.) Consider these recommendations diligently. Let them guide and comfort thee; and may God grant thee peace. Amen.

Follow the link above to read more from Löhe on Pseudipigraphus.

If you would like to read more of Löhe’s advice and devotions, you can purchase a copy of Seed-Grains of Prayer from Emmanuel Press here.  There is also a page-scan of the 1914 printing on Archive.org.