Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Speak like an Anglo-Saxon #8: Nativity Special

Our friendly Anglo-Saxons were quite civilised, really. The Christmas story which we know so well was a popular one with our ancestors too - there are translations of it from Latin into Old English from really early on.

Thinking about staging a properly traditional Nativity Play? Some familiar bits:

Narrator: þa hine þa to Bethlem comon – Then they came to Bethlehem. [‘tha hee-nuh tha toe Beth-lem kom-on’]

Narrator: ond þa cende hio sunu – And then she gave birth to a son. [‘ond tha ken-de hee-o sun-oo’]

Narrator: ond hio mid claðum hine bewand ond on binne alegde – And she wrapped him with swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger (not a ‘bin’, although it sounds a lot like it!). [‘ond hee-o mid clath-um hee-nuh be-wand ond on bin-ne a-lay-de’]

Angels: Wuldor sie Gode on heanness ond sybbon eorðan þam mannum þe godes willan sien – Glory be to God in the highest and peace on earth to those men who are in God’s favour. [‘wool-door see God-e on hay-ah-ness ond sib-bon ay-orth-an tham man-um thay god-es will-an see-en’]

Props might be a bit of a difficult point. Fair enough, sheep are quite easy to get hold of and tea-towel substitutes wouldn't be too hard. Camels for the wise men might be tricky, though - for a start Anglo-Saxons were confused about what camels were. They weren't too sure of the difference between camels and elephants...

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