This seasonal assembly for infants looks at the carol service or carol concert – an annual fixture in many schools

Here we look at an issue that teachers will readily recognise – the disappointment of the child who has prepared for the big occasion and then has to miss it. In this assembly story, a girl misses the Christmas carol service through illness. Luckily, there’s a happy ending. The assembly then considers how sometimes when one door closes, another one opens.

Introduction

We’ve been doing a lot of practising and rehearsing, haven’t we? What have we been practising for?

Take suggestions, eg. Christmas concerts and plays, and talk about them.

Why do we practise and rehearse? Yes, so that when we perform our play or concert it will be as good as we can make it.

Many things get better when you practise. Your reading gets better. You can sing better, act better and know your lines in the play better. We couldn’t do a Nativity play or a concert without practising it. But of course we enjoy practising as well – sometimes it’s almost as good as the final performance itself.

But even when we’re practising, we’re really looking forward to the performance. If the performance didn’t happen after all that practice, we’d be disappointed wouldn’t we? Well, that’s just what happened to Rosie. Let’s hear her story.

Story

Rosie had a special part in the carol service. She was to announce one of the carols. Rosie would have to stand in front of the choir and say the words, ‘The choir will now sing “Away in a Manger”.’ Mrs Bygrave knew that she could do that easily, but even so Rosie had to practise hard with all the others.

The choir met every afternoon during the two weeks before the service. They would be singing all the favourite carols – ‘Silent Night’, ‘Rat-a-tat-tat’, ‘Come to the Manger’. They sang them over and over again until they could all remember the words. The children who were playing the recorder and the announcers, like Rosie, also joined them to rehearse their parts.

All over the school during that fortnight, at breaks and lunchtimes, you could hear children singing the carols to themselves, playing their recorders and practising announcing the carols as they walked around.

The day of the carol service soon came. Rosie woke up that morning and straightaway she knew that she wasn’t very well. She had a splitting headache and her nose was running. She coughed and spluttered while she was getting dressed and again when she was having her breakfast. Her mum frowned and said, ‘You’re not well enough to go to school, let alone to be in the carol service.’

‘I’ve got to go, Mum,’ pleaded Rosie. ‘I’ve got an important part.’

Her mum was not at all sure, but she took her to school because she knew Rosie would be very disappointed if she didn’t go.

That afternoon, the choir went up to the town hall for the final rehearsal. By now, Rosie was feeling absolutely terrible. Mrs Bygrave kept looking at her. Once Mrs Bygrave came and felt her forehead and asked her if she was alright. Rosie said that she was, but really she felt very ill.

The moment came for Rosie to make her announcement. She went to the front, stood by the microphone and said, ‘The choir will now sing “Away in a Manger”.’ Then she just burst into tears.

‘Oh dear,’ said Mrs Bygrave as she lifted Rosie down from the stage.

‘You’re not fit to be here at all, are you?’ she said. I’ll give your mum and dad a ring to see if someone can come to take you home.’

‘Rosie’s mum wasn’t really surprised to see the pair of them standing at the hall door when she arrived. She gave Rosie a hug and said, ‘I knew you weren’t well. You’ve got ‘flu coming on. Straight to bed for you, young lady!’

Rosie hung her head. She didn’t want to miss the service.

‘I know it’s a disappointment,’ said her mum. ‘But sometimes things turn out like that. It’s much more important for you to get better in time for Christmas.’

Rosie nodded, but she didn’t see why it was more important.

That evening, she woke up and looked at the big clock in her room. It said five to seven – just the time that the children would be filing on to the stage at the town hall to start the carol service.

She had a little cry to herself when she thought about it, and she wondered who would be making her announcement about ‘Away in a Manger’.

Then, suddenly, Rosie heard a knock at the front door. Her mum answered it. Then there were voices and lots of laughter. The noise went on for quite some time, and Rosie propped herself on one elbow to try to make out who was talking downstairs.

Then came her mum’s voice, quietly from the bottom of the stairs, ‘Are you awake, Rosie?’

Rosie called back, ‘Yes, who’s here?’

‘It’s us, coming up to see you!’ chorused two voices.

Rosie recognised the voices. ‘Uncle Arnold and Auntie Jane!’ she called.

And into her room came her Uncle Arnold and Auntie Jane from Scotland.

‘We were on our way down the M1 to see Lucy and John in London, and we thought we’d stop off for a while to see you. And here you are in bed!’ said Uncle Arnold.

Rosie laughed for the first time that day. She really liked her Uncle Arnold and Auntie Jane. They lived in Scotland so she usually only saw them in the summer holidays. Every August she’d go and visit them for a few days.

Rosie always hated saying goodbye to them because it would be a whole year before she would see them again. A year was a long time. But here they were, unexpectedly, halfway between one summer holiday and the next!

‘You might catch the ‘flu!’ said Rosie.

‘Well, we won’t kiss you just to make sure,’ said Uncle Arnold. ‘Anyway, you don’t get rid of us that easily. Your mum’s on the way up with sandwiches for supper.’

So that’s how Rosie spent the evening of the carol service – cosy in her room with two people she loved to see.

‘Just think,’ she said, ‘If I’d been at the carol service, Mum would have been there too and there would have been nobody at home.’

‘Right,’ said Auntie Jane. ‘We’d have carried on to London and wouldn’t have seen you until next August.’

Then Auntie Jane said, ‘Your mum wants us to come and stay for a couple of days on our way back from Lucy’s in the new year.’

‘I’ll be better by then!’ said Rosie.

‘I hope so, because I intend to book a pantomime!’ Uncle Arnold said.

Conclusion

Rosie had a disappointment, but everything turned out well in the end. Missing one thing meant that she was able to have quite a different surprise.

When we have a disappointment, it’s really important not to keep on being sorry about it. We have to look forward and take the opportunity to smile if something better comes along instead.

A thought

There’s a saying that goes, ‘As one door closes, another opens.’ It means that if something goes wrong for us, perhaps something better will come out of it.

Song suggestions

‘For All the Strength We Have’, Someone’s Singing Lord, 16

‘Mary Had a Boy Child’, Tinder Box, 63

Optional follow-up idea

Talk about times when a disappointment might turn out to have a happy ending. For example, you might just miss the bus, and then a friend comes along to give you a lift. You might have missed out on events, only to find that something better happens.

Written by Gerald Haigh.

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