AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS
Place: Near Bethlehem. Time: The first century, just after the birth of Christ. Amahl, a disabled boy who can walk only with a crutch, has a problem with telling tall tales. He is sitting outside playing his shepherd’s pipe when his mother calls him into the house. His mother does not believe him when he tells her there is an amazing star “as big as a window” outside over their roof. Later that night, there is a knock at the door; Amahl goes see who it is. To his amazement he sees three
splendidly dressed kings (the Magi). At first his mother does not believe Amahl, butwhen she goes to the door to see for herself, she is stunned. The Three Kings explain they are on a long journey to give gifts to a wondrous Child, and they would like to rest at their house. The mother agrees saying that all she can offer is “a cold fireplace and a bed of straw”. King Balthazar answers Amahl’s questions about his life as a king and asks what Amahl does. Amahl responds that he was once a shepherd, but his mother had to sell his sheep. Now, he and his mother will have to go begging. Amahl then talks with King Kaspar, who is childlike, eccentric, and a bit deaf. Kaspar shows Amahl his box of magic stones, and offers him some candy. Amahl is told to go fetch the neighbors so the kings may be fed and entertained properly. After the neighbors have left and the kings are resting, the mother attempts to steal for her son some of the kings’ gold that was meant for the Christ Child. She is thwarted by the kings’ page. Amahl wakes to find the page grabbing his mother and attacks him. Seeing Amahl’s weak defense of his mother and understanding the motives for the attempted theft, King Melchior says she may keep the gold as the
Holy Child will not need earthly power or wealth to build his kingdom. The mother says she has waited all her life for such a king and asks the kings to take back the gold. She wishes to send a gift but doesn’t have anything to send. Amahl, too, has nothing to give the Child except his crutch. As he offers it to the kings, his leg is miraculously healed. With permission from his mother, he leaves with the kings to see the Child and give his crutch in thanks for being healed.
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