A Christmas pageant gift returned

Here's a Christmas story to encourage and inspire:

In 1938, the Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto, Canada received the gift of "The Christmas Story" Nativity pageant from St. Martin-in-the-Fields.  It has been performed every Advent since for the past 82 years.

The paradox of the current moment is that now, for the very first time, Holy Trinity is able to reach across the Atlantic and give back the gift we received so many decades ago.

“This year, with the pandemic, it was impossible to mount a stage production so we made a beautiful film that people can stream and watch from their own couch wherever in the world they live.” said long-time director Susan Watson.

“A series of small miracles aligned to allow us to create this film. ‘Angel’ investors committed seed funds up-front so the project could hire a professional film crew. Volunteer cast members from previous years agreed to work in a totally different medium in the public square while physically distanced and within household bubbles. Even the weather cooperated with sunshine and 18-degree November temperatures on the two shooting days.” 

The film is set outside the church, which is one of Toronto’s architectural treasures, and in neighbouring downtown locations. Visually the film acknowledges both the context of the pandemic and the presence of the tent encampment of people experiencing homelessness that currently surrounds the church. The production was edited to a soundtrack of professionally recorded narrators, singers and organist.

The result is a beautiful film that situates the classic story in a modern urban environment.

The on-demand version can be accessed through the church's website:  www.thechristmasstory.ca

As with the live production, access is via freewill donation so it is accessible to everyone, regardless of financial circumstances.

The St. Martin's pageant was started in 1928 by Rev. Pat McCormick and ran until 1938 when it was closed as a result of the blackouts during the Second World War.  Patricia Frank was Rev. McCormick's daughter.  She married Rev. John Frank, a young curate who had come to work at St. Martin's.  When John Frank was appointed to the Church of the Holy Trinity, Patricia brought the pageant with her and directed it for the first 25 years. 

Patricia remembered the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret coming to see the pageant at St. Martin's and sitting on either side of her father. For more on this see https://www.thechristmasstory.ca/commemorative-program