Christina Rossetti, on learning that she needs to rewrite her hymn.
E: So, Miss Rossetti, there are a few problems with this hymn. The first verse, for example, is probably not historically correct: Christ was almost certainly not born in midwinter, and the weather was mild enough for shepherds to abide in the fields all night.
C: O Eccles, you're not going to make me sacrifice such a poetic verse? I could rewrite it I suppose:
It was quite a nice day, Not too hot or cold, They had lovely weather In the days of old.E: Yes, it's a pity we couldn't have kept the "frosty wind made moan" bit, and all joined in with a chorus of "Moan moan moan," but historical accuracy is more important. Perhaps you could make the song a bit more dramatic?
C: I thought of continuing:
Rain had fallen, rain on rain, Rain on rain, But the shepherd's clothes were Drying out again.
It's a man's life in the sheep-farming industry.
E: Yes, that's fine. Now you have several verses about mangers, oxen, asses, even camels...
C: Camels are not really midwinter animals, I know. I thought of making them yetis instead. Are yetis Biblical? I suppose not.
A yeti reacts angrily to being told that it is not Biblical.
E: Well, we've got rid of the midwinter theme, anyway. Let's move on to the last verse, which is all about giving Christmas presents.
C: "If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb."
E: Yes, and "If I were a wise man, I would do my part." What is this mysterious "part?"
C: I was stuck for a rhyme for "heart," there, Eccles.
E: Now, it's good that the last verse is about us - that's the guiding spirit behind modern hymns - so let's see if we can make it even more egotistical, with a verse about Christmas shopping.
C: I have it:
I've been Christmas shopping, poor as I am: For my auntie Jane, a year's supply of spam.
For my uncle Fred, a tasty rhubarb tart...
And for dear old Gran a piece of modern art.
E: Christina Rossetti, thank you very much. They'll be singing this version in all the churches this Christmas, I have no doubt about it.