The Project Gutenberg eBook of The evergreen tree

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: The evergreen tree

Author: Percy MacKaye

Contributor: Arthur Farwell

Robert Edmond Jones

Release date: April 7, 2023 [eBook #70498]

Language: English

Original publication: United States: D. Appleton & Company, 1917

Credits: Tim Lindell and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)









ALSO (As Editor)





Dance-Carol of the Evergreen

So we will sing our even-song
And dance for thee, like king and queen,—
O Evergreen, dear Evergreen!—
To make thy heart be merry.






Copyright, 1917, by
Percy MacKaye

All Rights Reserved

Note: For Information concerning Permission to
produce this Masque or to read it in Public, see
ANNOUNCEMENTS, on page 81 of this volume.

Printed in the United States of America



A Masque of Christmas Time for
Community Singing and Acting


With Scenic and Costume Designs

Together with
Three Monographs on the Masque
written by
the Author, the Scenic Designer,
Composer of the Music




Those Friendly Thousands
of Men, Women and Children
in American Towns and Cities, Who Have
Shared With the Author in His Masques
a Common Devotion to the Happy Cause
of a Communal Art

This Masque is Dedicated
in Christmas Fellowship




Always an evergreen tree points up at a star.

Always a star looks somewhere down on the cradle of a child.

Always, once in the year, a child laughs up at evergreen boughs.

Tree, star and child are triune in the poetry of nature—a constellation of man that never sets.

The antic mirth, the naïve awe of paganism, the joy and passion of Christianity, are masks happy and tragic which the Folk Spirit of childhood has worn for ages, and shall wear for ages more, in ritual of a tree that never dies.

On the verge of No-Man’s-Land, where the blasted earth reels amid war’s stench and thunder; in calm cathedrals, to carolling choirs; by lonely chimney sides, or amid the young, tense assemblies of army camps, Christmas—this Christmas of our new age—grows again in the ancient greenness of a little tree.

How may we, too, do it homage?

Not forgetting the old simple merriment of folk days gone by, how shall we say—and sing—to our tree something of that deep response which we feel to-day to the creative sadness of our time?

Our young men are going out to the war: our country is grappling the issue of a planet. Here is a dramatic conflict, not for us as spectators, but as participants. Here is a theme, not of the traditional theatre, but of a[xii] communal drama, the action of which is at once a battle and a prayer. How may we take part together in expressing such a theme, at this new Christmas time?

Surely it must be through some simple festival—chiefly of song, for song is elemental to us all: a festival in which our people—young, old, rich, poor, women, men, but chiefly our young soldiers—may share, outdoors or indoors, in a ritual, democratic and devotional, on a scale great or small, simple to act and symbolize: a drama not designed for a hollow amphitheatre of spectators, but for a level-floored cathedral of communicants: a drama in which the goal of world liberty we battle for is clearly contrasted with its opposite, that we ourselves may not lose sight of our goal or swerve from it, as our common prayer, in the midst of battle. And there, as the focus-point of our festival and symbol of it—the tree of light: light of our own childhood and of the world’s.

I do not know whether this simple masque will prove worthy to help in creating such a festival for our new Christmas time—I can only wish and hope that it may.

Percy MacKaye.

Cornish, New Hampshire,
September, 1917.



Dedication ix
Preface xi
List of Illustrations xiv
Persons and Groups xv
Choruses and Carols xvi
The Community Chorus xvii
Time and Place xvii
Quotation from St. Matthew xviii
I. “Who Keepeth Watch?” 1
II. The Lantern in the Desert 9
III. “Somebody is Coming!” 11
IV. The Light-Child 14
V. “Sword of the World” 21
VI. The Befriending 28
VII. The Three Wise Men 31
VIII. “Which, O Lord, is Wisest?” 34
IX. Outcasts 44
X. The Wounded Pedlar 48
XI. The Persecuting Host 53
XII. The Morning Stars 54
Community Prelude 69
Community Epilude 72
Three Monographs:
I. Dramatizing Community Song, by Percy MacKaye 73
II. Community Music and the Composer, by Arthur Farwell 77
III. Designs for “The Evergreen Tree,” by Robert Edmond Jones 78
Action of “The Evergreen Tree” 80
Announcements Concerning Music and Production 81



Dance-Carol of The Evergreen Frontispiece
The Light-Child 16
Sword of the World 24
The Three Wise Men 32
Outcasts 44
The Pedlar-King 62
The Morning Stars 66
Gnome, Tree, Elf 78
Bear, Wolf, Lion 78
Joseph, Mary, Shepherds 78
Host, Herod, Captain 78
Belshasar, Caspar, Melchior 78
Followers of Belshasar, Caspar, Melchior 78
Sorrow, Song, Death, Poverty 78
Ruth, Claus, Children, Chorus B 78


In the Order of their Appearance



For Army Camp productions, in camps where it may not be practicable to have women as acting principals, the two mute female figures, MARY and SONG, may—if necessary—be omitted, and RUTH be acted by some well-skilled youth, as was the custom in Elizabethan days. The part of TREE, in any production, may be acted either by a young woman or by a young man (in small-scale productions preferably by a young woman). ELF and GNOME are preferably acted by children: a girl and a boy, or—if desirable—by two boys. In Chorus A, and in the first Semi-Chorus of the Outcasts, choir boys may, if need be, take the places of women.




First Action I. (A,1) Chorus of the Wilderness.
Fourth Action II. (A,2) Light of the World.
Fourth Action III. (A,3) The Star.
Fifth Action IV. (B,1) The Might of Herod.
Fifth Action V. (A,4 B,2) The Wrath of Herod.
Fifth and Eleventh VI. and X. (B,3 and 4) Song of the Persecuting Host.
Sixth Action VII. and VIII. (A,5 and 6) Glory and Serenity.
Ninth Action IX. (A,7) Dirge of the Outcasts.
Twelfth Action XI. (A,8 and B,5) Chorus of the Christmas Tree.
Part I: The Pedlar-King.
Part II: The Tree.
Part III: The Child.


Second Action 1. Joseph’s Carol.
Third Action 2. Fairy Round.
Fourth Action 3. Luck Song.
Fourth Action 4. The Tree-Child’s Lullaby.
Seventh Action 5. “We Three Kings of Orient Are.”
Eighth Action 6. The Bell, the Sword and the Laughter.
Eighth Action 7. Dance-Carol of the Evergreen.
Tenth Action 8. Ballad of the Kings and the Pedlar.

In modified small-scale productions of the Masque, where it may be impracticable to render all the music in its completeness, the Carols alone may be sung. In that event, the Choruses should not be wholly omitted, but may be rendered as Choral Poems spoken in chanted speech by properly qualified leaders (at Stage A and Stage B), as indicated in the “Guide to the Evergreen Tree” pamphlet, referred to in the Announcements on the last page of this volume.



is in two divisions, as follows:

CHORUS A, in White: Men and Women: located near Stage A.

CHORUS B, in Red: Men: located near Stage B.



The Time is laid on a night shortly after the birth of Christ.


The Masque takes place in Four Regions, indicated by Two Stages, and Two Aisles, the Audience being located between the two stages.

Stage A represents the Place of Outcasts: a knoll, with path, in the Wilderness, before the Evergreen Tree.

Stage B (located opposite Stage A) represents the Place of Empire: the Gateway and Steps to the Palace of Herod.

Aisle I (located on the right of Stage B, as one faces Stage A) represents a Pathway from the land of Herod into the Wilderness.

Aisle II (located on the left of Stage B and parallel to Aisle I) represents another Pathway into the Wilderness.

See Ground Plan opposite page 69.


From the Gospel of Saint Matthew: Chapter II

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came Wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.”

When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled....

And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, “Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.”

When they had heard the king, they departed; and lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was....

And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

Now when they were departed, behold an angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I tell thee: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.”

And he arose and took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt....

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the Wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under.



(“Who Keepeth Watch?”)


It is night.

In a dark place of the wilderness, a tree is growing.

Before it is an open space on a knoll, from which—left and right—a path leads down away into the desert.

At one side, in shadow, sit ELF and GNOME.

At centre, in starlight, stands TREE, half emerged from dim boughs.

First Chorus: A,1. Chorus of the Wilderness
Who keepeth watch in the lone wilderness
For the coming of a sign?
Who sendeth her roots down into the dark places
Seeking the springs of life,
And is restored:
And lifteth up her boughs in prayer of quiet,
And lo, they are filled with starlight?
The Tree: the Tree keepeth watch for the coming of a sign.
Who waiteth very patiently in the night desert[2]
For dawn of a new morrow?
And the wild beasts draw near unto her: they are tired
But none is afraid,
For her lap is like to a mother’s, where little children
Play till they weary and sleep:
There dryads bring her their dreams,
And the fairy folk are at home.—
Who liveth very old, alive with young green,
And waketh her heart with song for the coming of light?
The Tree: the Tree:
The Tree keepeth watch in her heart for the coming of light.
(A long wailing cry resounds from the dark.)
What’s that?
That is Wolf.
He’s coming from the desert. He is lonely.
Why is he coming here?[3]
Tree is here.
All the creatures come to Tree, when they are lonely.
Even Tree seems lonely to-night,
With eyes that look far away.—
Tree, what are you watching for?
A star.
But the sky is filled with starlight.
I am watching for a new star.
I have been waiting for it a long while.
I think I shall see it again soon.
Again?—Have you seen it before?
Yes: once:
One night, not long ago,
I saw it rising in the east, across the desert.
It made a path of wonderful shining.
Then it stood still in the sky—far over yonder!—
And seemed I heard shepherds singing.[4]
(Wolf enters.)
Hi-ih! It’s a cold night.
I want to come out of the wind.
Ask Tree.
High-o! Green-and-alive!
Can a fellow come out of the wind, here?
Welcome, Wolf.
And what may you three be talking about?
A star.
A new star in the east.
(Noises of puffing and growling are heard.)
Who now?[5]
That’s Bear and Lion coming.
They’re tired and sleepy.
(Bear and Lion enter.
Bear carries a bee-hive; Lion, a large bone.)
Ooff! Ooff! Where’s a hollow to sleep in?
Ask Tree.
Welcome, Bear! Break a bough for your pillow.
(Edging away)
Hi! Not my tail!
Ah-yarrr! I’m tired of killing.
Where can I bury my bone?
Ask Tree!
Welcome, Lion. Lay your head on my roots and rest.[6]
Yarrr! It’s a night of cold.
You kill nothing, Bear: how do you keep so fat?
His belly is full of wild honey.—
Here! he’s soft and round:
Keep him in the middle.
Three are warmer than one. Go to sleep.
(Wolf and Lion lean against Bear.
Slowly all fall into slumber and low snoring.)
(Murmuring together)
Hi-yo!—Ooff! Ooff!—Ah-yarrr!
And why do you wish the star to come, Tree?
Because of my dream.
What dream?[7]
Because I have dreamed a new star will come in the night;
And will gather all the old stars out of the heaven
To sparkle upon my branches.
And there they shall sing all together.
And in the midst of them the new star
Shall laugh aloud,
Shall laugh like a young child,
And my boughs shall be as sheltering arms to make him a home.
And there we shall dwell no more, dreadful in the desert,
Where wild beasts kill one another, and weary of killing;
And there shall be no more lonely things;
But there shall be carolling of stars and a young child’s laughter;
And I shall be the angel in his home.
The wild beasts are fast asleep.
Nothing is stirring in the world.
Yes: look! I think I see—
Don’t you see—there! through the dark:
It is moving towards us.
I think I hear some one singing.
It is drawing nearer.
O my dear dream!
Is it the new star?
Yes; but it has fallen down out of the heaven.
It has made itself very small and lowly.
It has made itself into a little lantern,
To light the feet of them who wander in the wilderness.


(The Lantern in the Desert)


Moving toward the Tree, a Procession enters singing.

First comes JOSEPH in white. He holds high a tall staff, from which a swinging lantern shines. Behind him comes, in pale blue, MARY, attended by Shepherds in white. These carry lighted candles and long crooks, and they are ranged about a Manger, borne in their midst.

Carol 1. Joseph’s Carol
As Joseph I was walking,
I heard an angel sing:
This night shall be the birthnight
Of Christ our heavenly King.
His birth-bed shall be neither
In housen nor in hall,
Nor in the place of paradise,
But in the oxen’s stall.[10]
He neither shall be rockèd
In silver nor in gold,
But in the wooden manger
That lieth on the mould.
He neither shall be clothèd
In purple nor in pall,
But in the fair white linen
That usen babies all.
As Joseph I was walking
Thus did the angel sing;
And Mary’s Son at midnight
Was born to be our King.


(“Somebody Is Coming!”)


Tree and the Fairies have watched and listened eagerly.

(To Elf and Gnome)
Look, look! The light is coming here.
Rouse up the wild beasts,
And let us make a welcome for these wanderers.
Carol 2. Fairy Round
(Sing in a round)
Wolf, Bear, Lion!
Wolf, Bear, Lion!
Are you awake?
Are you awake?
Somebody is coming!
Somebody is coming![12]
(Waking and rubbing his eyes, joins in the round)
Who can it be?
Who can it be?
(Rolling to his feet with an “Ooff!” imitates Lion)
Let’s go and see!
Let’s go and see!
(Scrambling down the path)
Hi-ih! Ooff! Yarrr!
Peace, wild folk! Make a welcome for these new comers.
(Grinning savagely)
Welcome, they are! My mouth waters for them.
(To Lion)
Hi! Let me pass.
I’ll pick a bone with you—after the meat’s gone.
You talk loud, but you keep your tail between your legs.[13]
That’s more than you can do—with yours!
Now for a new kill!


(The Light-Child)


Approaching along the path, JOSEPH and his Group pause, confronted by the BEASTS.

God save you, Sir Lion!
Save yourself, Sir Man—if you can.
Look sharp: there’s more there behind.
They carry a trough there. What’s in it?
Keep off!—Aim your blows, fellows: strike!
(The Shepherds, with their crooks, drive back the Beasts. Joseph intervenes.)[15]
Stay, good Shepherds! Put away your crooks.
Fear nothing, Mary.
These wild folk crave our leave to behold the Child
And do Him homage.
(Pausing before the Evergreen Tree)
Pray you set down the manger. Now, Sir Beasts,
And you, Elf Folk, will it please you draw near and look in?

(On either side the Shepherds draw back, revealing at centre the Manger, out from which a wonderful glow shines upward, touching the faces of the Shepherds and hushing the Beasts with awe.)

The light! The light!
Second Chorus: A,2. Light of the World
Where sleepeth till dawn-break the light of the new morrow?
Lo, as a babe, it sleepeth in a little manger:
Light of the World! Alleluia!
The dark is his cradle;
The beasts come about him;
The stars in their watches
Are covered with cloud.[16]
Home hath he none;
The desert receives him—
The place of outcasts
And lonely things.
No sound is heard there
Save shepherds singing;
The lords of earth
Avert their faces;
Dark—dark is his cradle.
Yet surely will dawn break with light of his new morrow:
Yea, for the babe that sleepeth in a little manger
Is Light of the World: Alleluia!

(The Fairies and Beasts peer in the Manger with awed delight. Murmuring aloud, they speak to Joseph.)

May we not dance for him?
And make gambols?
May I give him my bone? ’Twill make him a rare toy!
Ooff!—If he lie in my lap, my fur will warm him.[17]
Look-ee! If I wag my tail for him, he will laugh.
Hush! He is asleep. Please do not wake Him.

(The Beasts draw back. Kneeling down with Elf and Gnome, all Five sing together.)

Carol 3. Luck Song
While this Light-Child sleeping lies,
Word or murmur never wake him!
But when he shall open his eyes,
Mirth and antics we will make him.
Thank you, friends, for your courtesies;
But now the night grows old, and we are weary of wandering.
Out of the land of Herod we are fled, and go into Egypt.
Mary and Joseph are we, and Jesus, the little Child,
Whom these good Shepherds bear with us in his birth-cradle.
Now we must needs find shelter for the babe to rest.
Now welcome, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus, the little Child!
Rest you, I pray, with these Shepherds, under my boughs.[18]
Gentle Tree, you say kindly.
(To Mary, with gladness)
Here Herod can never harm Him, Lady dear.
Who is Herod, that he would harm a little child?
Herod is lord of the world—there, in the land we have fled from.
Mighty is he, yet afraid: for out of the east
Three Wise Men followed a star to this poor manger,
Telling Herod a little child should inherit his kingdom.
Mighty is Herod, yet trembles now on his throne,
And wishes this Little One death.
But shall never find Him!
Nay, for none in Herod’s kingdom knows
Where Child and Mother and Manger and guiding Star
Are vanished away. Only you, dear folk of the desert,
Share now our secret.
And shall ward it full well.
So enter into my shelter, with your good Shepherds,
Joseph and Mary and Manger-Child—and rest.[19]

(Tree and Mary pass behind within shadow. As the Shepherds with the Manger follow, a sweet, lulling VOICE sings from within.)

Carol 4. The Tree-Child’s Lullaby
Babe of my love,
Lull thee to rest!
Bird of my heart,
Night is thy nest.
Evergreen bough,
Shadow my babe!
Shelter my bird,
Evergreen bough!
Star of my dreams,
Soon thou wilt shine:
Dream of the stars,
Splendor be thine!
Evergreen bough,
Shine with my Star!
Shelter his dreams,
Evergreen bough!
(Joseph, pausing a moment before he follows, speaks to his lantern.) [20]
Now lantern, that dost hide His holy light,
Show forth on high thy little Master’s star!
(He blows out the lantern.

Instantly a shining Star appears on the top of the Tree. Staring upward with gestures of surprise, the Creatures murmur aloud.)

The star! The star!
(In wonder, while the Chorus sings, they follow after the others.)
Third Chorus: A,3. The Star
Where shineth in whiteness the star of the new Master?
Lo, from the tree that sheltereth a child’s dreaming
Shineth His star: Alleluia!

The Light-Child

Where sleepeth till dawn-break the light of the new morrow?
Lo, as a babe it sleepeth in a little manger:
Light of the World! Alleluia!


(“Sword of the World”)


Gateway and Steps in front of HEROD’S Palace.

With spears and in armor, the CAPTAIN and the Host of Herod are assembling.

With deep, pounding reverberation, Voices of the male Chorus conflict with the far, high singing of the other Chorus, now dying away.

Fourth Chorus: B,1. The Might of Herod
Herod—Herod—Herod—Herod, the mighty
Lord of the world!
Hail him, hail him, hail him Herod the Master!
Bow to his will!
His power what star can confound?
Or cloud can darken his splendor,
Who bindeth his brow with the lightning
And girdeth his loins with the storm![22]
For he maketh the world of men
The winnowing floor of his glory:
And he weareth the mail of the Most High,
And shareth the mantle of God.—
Millions obey him,
Man is his tool.
Forth on his errands
Fly his red legions;
Domes of his dwelling
Glow in the dawn.
Forgeth his empire;
Rear his dominion;
Sowing and harvest
Bleed in his furrows;
Peace is his footstool,
War is his crown.
Herod—Herod—Herod—Herod, the mighty
Lord of the world!
(Beside the gate, the Captain of the Host strikes a deep-toned gong and calls aloud.)
Herod! Herod, the most High![23]

(HEROD comes forth with his Followers. Clad in long robe of Tyrian purple, he wears on his head a gold helmet. In his hand, he holds a great staff, surmounted by a globe of the world.)

Who calls so loud at my gate?
I, Captain of the Host of Herod.
Why do you cry on my name?
For I am come at your bidding, King of Men.
Lo, we are here to do your command.
My command I gave you, to bring unto me three Wise Men,
Kings of the East. Show them before me now.
Most High, they are not here. We have made far searching
But they are vanished away.
Where are they gone?
No man has seen.[24]
Where shines their star?
Heaven has no sign.
Where was he found—the child they worshipped?
Lowly he lay, in a poor manger.
Now bring him before me!
He too has departed.
My command! My command! My command!
Have ye not slain him? Speak!
Herod, most High, how shall the vanished be slain?
No sign gives us token
Where child and mother and manger and guiding star
Are vanished away.
Powers of my crown and throne! Am I not Herod,
Herod, the Mighty? Who shall defeat my power?
Fifth Chorus: B,2 & A,4. The Wrath of Herod.

(Close by, from the Place of Empire, deep Choral Voices reiterate HEROD’S boasts of triumph; far off, from the Place of Outcasts, they are answered in antiphony by high, sweet Choirs, affirming his defeat.)


B,2, Reiterative
Herod, our lord and king! Who shall defy his command?
A,4, Antiphonal
A star! A star shall confound him.
Am I the Sword of the World, and shall a weakling disarm me?
B,2, Reiterative
How shall the crook of a shepherd shatter the sword of a king?
A,4, Antiphonal
A child! A child shall disarm him!
Hath God anointed me, yea, and shall a babe disinherit?
B,2, Reiterative
Lo, shall the light of a manger outshine his glory of palaces?
A,4, Antiphonal
A dream! A dream shall survive him![26]
Now, by my host of power! he shall not escape me—
This babe low-born, but for his sake shall all
The hosts of childhood perish. Go forth and slay them,
All newly born of women, that he among them
May not escape, and all who shall resist
My power, young men or old, brothers or fathers,
Destroy them likewise—yea, with red fire and spear
And burning sword-blade. Go! My will is God’s,
For I am Herod—Herod, lord of the world!

(Raising his sword, the Captain makes sign to the Host, who lift high their spears. As the Chorus breaks into song, they depart, marching, while Herod reënters his palace.)

Sixth Chorus: B,3. Song of the Persecuting Host
Go forth, ye host of power!
Lay waste, lay waste the lowly!
For Herod’s might is a blazing tower,
And Herod’s wrath is holy.
Yea, Herod’s wrath
God’s ire it hath
As he rends the weak asunder.
Go forth upon his fiery path
Go forth, ye host, in thunder!
The strong, the strong shall reign!
Unleash the hounds of pain,
And loose their cry
Where the wounded lie
And the weakling race are slain.[27]
Go forth, ye host of power!
Destroy, destroy the dreaming!
For none may pause for a dream to flower
Where Herod’s might goes streaming.
Yea, Herod’s might
God maketh His right
When the weak of the world go under.
Go forth upon their darkling flight,
Go forth, ye host, in thunder!

Sword of the World

Herod, our lord and king! Who shall defy his command?
A star! A star shall confound him!


(The Befriending)


Now, from the Place of Outcasts, Choral Voices sing, while once more JOSEPH, MARY and Shepherds bearing the Manger appear, coming forth from the shelter of the Evergreen. With them TREE also appears.

Seventh Chorus: A,5. Glory and Serenity
Glory and serenity,
Beauty of desire,
Bless to-night this holy tree
And our candle fire.
Tree of our hearts, behold!
How the dreams of a child in your boughs unfold
And the weary of earth put off their pain
Where the Child of our love has lain.[29]
Shepherd, the morrow’s light will soon begin
To wake the desert world. Here we have lain
This night in quiet refuge; yet through sleep
I heard far off the host of Herod rage
Against this Child His kingdom. So once more
Let us go forth our way, till He is safe
Beyond the war-lord’s might.
Yea, let us go,
Yet not till we have thanked this gentle Tree.
Dear Tree, you have befriended in his need
This little Child new-born. So—for His sake—
Your gracious boughs shall evermore be green,
Nor ever in winter lose their April sap,
But freshly, at this season of His birth,
They shall be fragrant of the hallowed dreams
His happy heart bequeathes you.
He was welcome,
And I will deck my boughs with infant joys
In his remembrance.
So we say—God keep you!
And not ‘Goodbye’![30]
(To Tree)
Nay, still another token
We leave with you: His star—to be henceforth
A morning star of song for other children
Who rest from Herod’s wrath. So you shall be
No more a forest sprite, but a hallow’d angel—
His shining angel with a sheathèd sword
To guard all childhood’s home. Keep here his star:
O fare you well, dear wanderers,
That have fulfilled with love my lonely dream!

(With lighted candles, in processional, the Shepherds with Manger, Mary and Joseph depart toward the desert. While the Chorus sings, Tree stands gazing after them.)

Eighth Chorus: A,6. Glory and Serenity
Glory and serenity,
Beauty of desire,
Blend the song of men set free
With their children’s choir.
Child of our hearts, behold!
How the dark is strewn with your fairy gold
And the bitter of soul lay-by their spleen
Where the Tree of our love grows green.
(Tree goes within.)


(The Three Wise Men)


Entering from its farther end appear, in procession, the THREE WISE MEN, and their Followers. Lighted by torches of their Attendants, this Pageant of the Kings moves onward in oriental splendor.

Each KING wears a crown of gold.

The crown of the youngest, BELSHASAR, is set on a turban. He is clean shaven, pale and recluse. The garb of him and his Group has a tone of asceticism.

The crown of the middle-aged, MELCHIOR, is placed on a helmet. He is thick-set, black-bearded and sharp-eyed. A martial glitter touches him and his Group.

The crown of the oldest, CASPAR, is set on a high-peaked hat with wide flapping brims. His beard is silver white, his face ruddy and wrinkled with laughter. His ample gown is gorgeous with red dyes and jewels. Like him in jocular splendor are his Followers.


As they approach the place of the Tree, KINGS and Followers come singing a carol, led by the KINGS.

Carol 4. Trio and Chorus: “We Three Kings of Orient Are”
We three kings of Orient are:
Wending home, we traverse afar
Field and fountain
Moor and mountain
Seeking for our lost star.
(Of the Three Kings and their Followers)
O Star of Wonder,
Star of Night,
Star with royal beauty bright!
Eastward leading,
Home proceeding,
Show once more Thy perfect light!
Where the guiding glory once shone
Dark we wander onward and on,
Watching, hoping,
Dimly groping,
Seeking the light that’s gone.[33]
O Star of Wonder,
Star of Night,
Star with royal beauty bright!
Eastward leading,
Home proceeding,
Show once more Thy perfect light!


one on a scooter, blowing his hooter

The Three Wise Men

(“Which, O Lord, is Wisest?”)


The THREE KINGS enter before the Tree, their Followers grouped on the right. As he comes, King CASPAR lifts his voice in a carol, solo, in which BELSHASAR and MELCHIOR soon join with him. Each of them, in his singing, acts out the sung carol in his bearing and movement.

Carol 5. Solo and Trio. The Bell, the Sword and the Laughter
Lord of life! how pleasant ways
Are thy paths of danger,
Leading down from Herod’s place
By an ox’s manger:
Lo, there lay a little child
Rosy ’neath the rafter.—
Ahaha! how glad he smiled!
Lord, how blithe his laughter!
Laughter! Nay, I heard none laugh.
Whom thou heardest—say now![35]
Him, the child, where mid the chaff
He lay on the hay-mow.
Sure, Belshasar, thou didst bend
Nigh him and thou heardest.
Caspar, nay: I comprehend
Not one thing thou wordest.
Ohoho! Still, Lord, I hear
Music of that laughter.
Daft thou ever wert: I fear
Still thou growest dafter.
Nothing heard I, by my soul
But a sword its clanging.
Nay, a bell, I heard it toll:
On a cross ’twas hanging.
Now, am I not Melchior?
By my crown its keeping!
’Twas a sword that dangled o’er
Where the babe lay sleeping.[36]
Nay, a bell—a passing-bell:
Lonely was its ringing.
Ahaha! I heard full well
‘Merry Christmas!’ singing.
(Sing together)
Lord, how may we wise men tell
How to clothe our starkness?
Song and sword and passing-bell
Lure us through the darkness.
Send us sign of hidden things—
Thou who naught despisest!
Lo, of us three crownèd kings,
Which, O Lord, is wisest?
(Echo in song, within)
Which, O Lord, is wisest?
(In songful laughter)
Óhoho! Aháha!
Lord, Lord, Thy sign! Harken, wise men, my brothers:
Laughter, laughter He sends us for a sign![37]
Nay, voices of the desert places!
Mockings of midnight!
(Enter, laughing lyricly)
Óhoho! Aháha!
Heigh! What is here? Elf!—Gnome!
Keep back! They are imps of evil.
Stay! Do not speak with them. Hush!

(Caspar pays no heed, but greets the Fairies, who return his greeting with blithe bows.)

Now, neighbors, God rest you merry!
Welcome, Wise Man![38]
Welcome, Sir King!
(To Belshasar)
He speaks with them.
(To Melchior)
Come. He is lost!
(They draw away.)
Where are you from—ye Kings?
From the East, returning home from Herod’s land.
What went you there for to do?
To worship a new-born Child.
How did you find your way?
We followed a star.[39]
(Nodding to each other)
A star!
Yea, but our path now has lost it.—
Why do ye laugh there so merry?
Look up!
The star! The star!
Ho, Melchior, Belshasar, look up!
His star—the star we have lost—is found:
Behold, it shines on the tree!
I see no star.
’Tis darkness all.
What! Can you see nothing shining yonder?
Nothing. Your eyes are bleary with night.
Nay, he’s grown old and merry and cracked.[40]
Deaf to His laughter, blind to His star!
God save you, Wise Men! Let me grow old
And merry and cracked,
And talk with His wild, silly creatures.
(Enter Wolf, Bear and Lion.)
(To Melchior)
Come farther!—Wild beasts they draw near.
(They move aside into shadow.)
Halloa, goodman Bear! Good even!
Ooff! Ooff! My honey hive’s empty.
Look you! My bone is picked bare.
I’ve never a bone left to pick,
And I’m losing the fur on my tail.
Heigh, Master Wolf, Sir Lion!
How come ye so down at heart?[41]
The Light-Child is gone on his way.
When a fellow can’t sing, he feels hungry.
Nay, neighbors, the Light-Child is with us;
He smiles from His twinkling star
Yonder, yea laughs in His light
And bids us make merry together
For joy of His shining.—Hoho!
Bring hither my music, good fellows!
Bring hither my fiddles and cakes
To make Him a feast night.

(From among Caspar’s Followers, cakes and instruments are brought before him. To Wolf, Bear and Lion he gives each a cake; to Elf and Gnome a stringed instrument.)

Here, neighbors,
Have each of you now a sweet frosting:
Here’s moon-cake and sun-cake and star-cake,
To mind us His birth-time. And you—
Here’s tune-strings to play, while we sing
To praise this good tree of His star.
(Tree enters, winged, all in white.)
Look, look! Tree now is his angel.[42]
Welcome, dear passers in darkness!
The Light-Child is gone on His way,
But He leaves you His star, to make glad
Your path in the wilderness.—Welcome
Under His star!
Thank you, Tree.
His star hath made merry our hearts
To dance in His light—aye, to sing
As we enter your place of His dreams.
Come, neighbors, now blithe be our carol!

(With his sceptre for baton, Caspar leads in dance and song Wolf, Bear, Lion, Elf and Gnome, the Beasts holding their cakes, the Fairies playing their instruments. Joining in their blithe dance of devotion, the old King clutches the great flap of his crown, to keep it from joggling off.)

Carol 6. Dance-Carol of the Evergreen.
(Sing, to the strongly stressed dance-rhythm)
O Evergreen, our Evergreen!
Thy boughs are brave and bright o’ sheen,
Thy bark and wood are live and strong
And bonny with the berry.
So we will sing our even-song
And dance for thee, like king and queen.—
O Evergreen, dear Evergreen!—
To make thy heart be merry.[43]
O Even-song, our Even-song,
Thy notes this holy night belong
To Him who came to heal our teen
With love and starry leaven.
His childhood keepeth ever green
All hearts of creatures here that long—
O Even-song, dear Even-song—
To make our earth His heaven.

(Following Tree, they dance joyously within. Outside, Melchior, Belshasar and their Followers wait in the dimness.)

A bell! I hear a bell tolling.
A sword! The clang of a sword!




From the right of HEROD’S Gate sounds the tolling of bells—from the left, the clangor of swords.

During this, HEROD comes forth and stands on his dais. There, in shifting light and darkness, Helmeted Men with swords hurry to him, confer in pantomime and depart.

Then, as HEROD stands looking down from his height, there passes below him a Procession of Outcasts, which—moving from Aisle II to Aisle I—passes on along Aisle I toward the Place of the Tree. When the last of this dirgeful Pageant has gone by him, HEROD returns in darkness within the gate.

The Procession of Outcasts is accompanied by FOUR MASKED FIGURES in symbolic garb, and consists of the Followers of these, walking before and after a stretcher, borne at the middle of the Pageant. First of the Four is a Female Figure, SONG, who leads the Procession, looking upward; last, is a Male Figure, POVERTY, bowed in stature. The other two Male Figures walk at the head[45] and foot of the stretcher, the first being SORROW, staring before him, the second one—DEATH, who bears a muffled babe in his arms, lulling it, with a calm smile.


On the stretcher a Poor Man lies wounded—a PEDLAR, with his pack for a head-rest. He wears a red jerkin and great boots and a workman’s cap. His beard is brown. His face is pale, his side bandaged. In one hand he holds a broken sword. The Man is CLAUS, whose Wife, RUTH, walks beside him, in peasant garb. At his other side walk two small tattered Figures—a BOY and a GIRL, their children.

As all pass slowly onward, the Outcasts chant their song-dirge, out of which rises momentarily, first, the Voice of RUTH, then of CLAUS, while at times Full Chorus gives deeper volume to the singing. Rhythms of tolled bells and of clanging swords accompany the two Semi-Choruses.

Ninth Chorus: A,7. Dirge of the Outcasts.
(Semi-Chorus of Women)
Bells, bells of the dark!
Tongues of iron and terror!
Toll no more, no more,
Bells of my breaking heart!
Beautiful I bore him,
Babe of my life and milk:[46]
Wonderful I wore him,
Yea, as a scarf of silk:
They tore him!
(Semi-Chorus of Women)
Bells of my breaking heart,
Toll no more, no more,
Tongues of iron and terror,
Bells, bells of the dark!
(Men and Women)
God!—God of the broken heart!
Lord of the tolling bell!
God, our God, if thou art, if thou art,
Tell us, our Father, tell:
How darkly long
Shall the reign of the strong
Endure, to make of Thine earth our hell,
Ere thou, O Lord of the bleeding dart,
Rise in Thy light, to quell?
(Semi-Chorus of Men)
Swords, swords in my soul!
Tongues of fire and horror!
Clang aloud, aloud,
Swords of my burning heart![47]
Newly born I named him
Babe of my joy and ruth:
Kin of heart I claimed him,
Yea, as my star of youth:
They maimed him!
(Semi-Chorus of Men)
Swords of my burning heart!
Clang aloud, aloud,
Tongues of fire and horror,
Swords, swords in my soul!
(Men and Women)
God!—God of the burning soul!
Lord of the clanging sword!
God, our God, from Thy kindling goal,
Answer us, answer, Lord!
How far and blind
Shall the kings of our kind
Beguile our hearts on their paths abhorred,
Ere thou, O Christ of a race made whole,
Come in Thy world-accord?


(The Wounded Pedlar)


While the Outcasts have been approaching, CASPAR has come forth from the Place of the Tree and watched them coming.

Now, where he joins BELSHASAR and MELCHIOR, the THREE KINGS call, in song, to the dim Figures who draw near.

Carol 8. Trio and Solo. Ballad of the Kings and the Pedlar
Who are ye that come singing in darkness,
Outcast in the desert so late?
O Kings, it is me, Claus the Pedlar,
And these be my children and mate.
Who are those there, your comrades, beside you:
Those shadows, say, who should they be?
They be Death, and his young brother, Sorrow,
And his old brother, Poverty.[49]
Nay, but who is that other amidst them,
That lifteth her face: What is she?
That is Song, and she is their sister
Who waiteth upon them, all three.

(Claus, Ruth and the two Children have now joined the Three Kings.)

Goodman, why are the eyes of your woman
So weary of look and so wild?
He hath broken our home, hath King Herod,
And killed us our new-born child.
Now tell us, ye Kings that be Wise Men,
Now tell us, where darkly we roam:
What right hath a king of a pedlar
To rob him his child and his home?
A king hath the right of his power
To raise high his glory and crown.
Then it’s Claus hath the right of a pedlar
To pull his high glory adown.[50]
A king hath his host and his captains
To shatter the weak with his horde.
Then it’s Claus he will be his own captain
To sharpen the edge of his sword.
Nay, a king hath the might of his lordship
’Tis death for his slave to defy.
Then it’s me hath the right of my manship
To master his might or to die.
For ’tis God is my King and not Herod,
And God he keepeth no slave;
And liever than live Herod’s henchman
I’ll lie a free man in the grave.
So I dared him his host and his captains,
And struck for my babe a sword blow;
And ’tis here they have broken my body;
With Death now right soon must I go.
Nay, cheerly, Claus! Cheerly, goodwife and kiddies!
Now you have wandered to a lucky place.
Our Evergreen shall heal your hurt. Run, Elf,
And fetch him balsam gum to balm his wounds.
(Elf runs within.)[51]
No balsam gum can heal us our lost babe.
Ruth, wife, where lieth now his little body?
Death holds him fast. Death holdeth him forever.
Herod is king. Ye should have awe of kings
And bow before them.
We are kings and wise,
And warn you what you owe to Herod.
I have paid back to Herod all I owe him—
The red blade of this broken sword.
Brave said!
Give me the hasp. See, we will hang it here
On this green bough, to be your shining cross
Of freedom and remembrance—yea, a sign
For Herods, when they pass, to pause and think on.
(To Belshasar)
He flouteth what we say!
(Belshasar shrugs, but motions Melchior to listen. Elf returns.)[52]
So, Pedlar Claus,
Lay-by thy pack, and rest you here till morrow;
Tend him, good Elf and Gnome. Now, mother, bravely!
These beasties shall make hospitality
And share their holy frost-cakes with your children,
Wiping their eyes with love: And these war-weary,
Glad of our Evergreen, shall take new hope
From yon clear star.

(He helps Claus to rise and supports him to the foot of the Tree, where he places his pack for Claus to recline. The stretcher is borne away. Far off, a long blast sounds.)

Hark, hark! What trumpet calls?
’Tis Herod’s host. Take heed!
God shield us now!

(She turns toward Caspar, who comforts her and the Children.)


(The Persecuting Host)


Pouring forth from the Place of Empire, the Host of Herod and their Leaders, with spears held high, come marching on both pathways toward the Tree, singing in chorus as they march.

Tenth Chorus: B,4. Song of the Persecuting Host
Go forth, ye host of power!
Enslave, enslave the humble!
’Fore Herod’s host their hearts shall cower,
Their builded hopes shall crumble.
Yea, Herod’s host
Shall trample them most
Where they build their shrines of wonder.—
Go forth with Vengeance’ war-red ghost,
Go forth, go forth in thunder!


(The Morning Stars)


Staying his Followers, the CAPTAIN OF THE HOST approaches the THREE KINGS by the Tree.

In his hand he bears the Staff of Herod.

Halt here!—Behold them. They are found.
Stand forth, ye Kings of East! What make ye
So far from Herod’s throne?
We journey home.
Know ye not Herod’s wrath, what ’tis!—
Why brought ye not your tidings back
To him? Where is the Manger-Child?
We know him not.
Our trail we lost.
His star is dark.[55]
Nay, shineth yonder!
Where shineth?
He is old and daft.
Hail, Captain of our lord his host!
Welcome you are in Herod’s name.—
(Rising painfully)
Nay, curst is he in Herod’s name.—
Give back my babe!
(Strikes him with his staff.)
Take hence thy life!
(Claus falls back motionless. Death draws near and bends over him.)
Come, Claus: Awake! Thy babe is here.
Friend Death, now raise me up.—Methought
Thou hadst been deaf and dumb, but now
We speak together.[56]
Here I hold
Thy little babe.
(Taking the muffled child)
O little babe,
Now are we both in Death his arms
Safe held from Herod’s wrath. Be glad
Thy father was not Herod’s slave.
(In his great cloak Death leads him away. Ruth stares after them.)
Claus! Claus!—Now Death hath taken him.
Poor woman, do not weep for Claus.
Friend Death is kind.
Now are we left
Alone, and none to shield us.
A king shall shield ye.
King! What king
Would shield these Herod’s outcasts?[57]
That’s old and merry and cracked, and wears
This crown of Caspar, king of babes
Made fatherless.
(To the Captain, shrewdly)
You hear?
He’s mad!
Nay, give me sign what manner wise men
And kings you are. Make sign, ye three,
Now to this staff; for, by its power!
All lesser kings who bow them not
To Herod’s staff shall lose their crowns.
Bow! Bow ye low to Herod, lord of the world!
(Bows low to the staff.)
Herod, most High!
Thy crown keep safe.
(Bows low to the staff.)
Herod, the Mighty![58]
Keep thy crown.
(Remains standing, and smiles.)
Herod, the Poor!
What now! How name ye
Herod—the poor?
Is he not poor
To lose him both my brothers’ crowns,
And needs ask alms of me, old Caspar?—
Ho, take him this my crown, poor Herod!
And this, my sceptre, yea, and this
My cloak also, and bid him keep
His staff for kings of sadder heart
To bow them to. Mine is too merry.—
Now, kiddies, come: where be your cakes
And frosting?

(Having put off his King’s robe, sceptre and crown, Caspar now appears in his under-jerkin of red, with long boots, like a Peasant.)

(To Belshasar)
Mad! Stark gone![59]
(Tossing aside the robe, sceptre and crown, speaks to his Followers.)
These tokens, men! Your spears! Your spears!
This wise man shall learn wisdom now
In Herod’s name.
Forbear! He raves.
(He and Melchior draw the Captain momentarily aside.)
(To Caspar)
Alas! How can you help us now
And have no kingdom?
Ha, my dears!
A joyful heart finds many a job
Can earn a kingdom.
(Taking the little Boy and Girl, one on each knee, he speaks to them and their Mother.)
Cheerly, woman!
Thy goodman plied a goodly trade.—
Poor Claus he was a pedlar: Ho!
A pedlar now will Caspar be,
And take thy goodman’s pack and name,
And ply his trade of children’s toys
By neighbor chimneys, house to house,[60]
With jingling bells in winter air;
And hearth to hearth the mirth shall spread
Around the fire, and yule logs blaze,
And apples toast, and stockings spill
With candy dolls and popping tricks;
And tiptoe boys and girls shall peep
To spy the pedlar with his sack,
And pay his wage in wonder coin
Left on the hearthstone; and through all
The evergreen and evergreen,
Around the tree of light shall run—
With fairy twinklings of His star—
The laughter of a Manger Child.
(Rising, he lifts the Children in his arms.)
Up, kiddies, now, with Pedlar Claus
To find His kingdom!
(To Belshasar, brushing him and Melchior aside)
Nay, no more!
He bowed not down, and shall pay dear
For Herod’s anger.
(Swinging the Pedlar’s pack upon his back)
Ho, good hearts!
Now, Sorrow, come! and Poverty!
And you, dear Song, that serve on them!
You, Elf and Gnome, and desert beasts!
Ye children all, both old and young,
Come, gather by this holy Tree
And share with Pedlar Claus his pack![61]
Ho, Claus, the Pedlar-King! Hail Claus!
Hail, Claus, the Pedlar-King! King Claus!
(They crowd toward him; his cap is struck off.)
(Raising the cap on a spear)
Lo, Claus, his crown! Behold the crown!
Hail to the crown! The Pedlar’s crown!
Ye Spears of Herod, spill him wine!
Yea, with his blood anoint him!

(Pointing their spears, the Host turn to rush upon Caspar, when suddenly a Blaze of Light checks and astounds them: silverly a Blast of Trumpets sounds; the Evergreen branches burst into bloom of stars, while TREE, as Angel, comes forth, holding sheathed a shining Sword, its hasp in a Crown of Holly.)

Bow, Host of Herod! Bow ye down
And hail our Saint of Evergreen:
Hail Santa Claus!

(Tree places the Holly Crown on Caspar’s head. A Burst of Sleigh-Bells sounds, filling the air with their circlings of silver music.)


(Shout with wild joy)
Hail, Santa Claus!
(Falling back, murmur in awe)
Hail, Santa Claus!

(Overwhelmed, they bow down. Choirs of shrilly gladness break forth in Chorus, as the jingling sleigh-bells change to Pealing Chimes.)

Eleventh Chorus: A,8 and B,5. Chorus of the Christmas Tree
Part I. (Chorus A) The Pedlar-King
Hail—Santa Claus!
Saint of our Evergreen!
Hail, dear Pedlar of starry joys!
On your own shoulders
Now you have lifted
All the world’s weariness—
Pack of old burdens,
Sack of our sorrows:
Lifted it, stored anew,
Crammed with enchantment,
Bursting with merry
And magical laughter,
Wonder of children—
Mirth of our Lord![63]
Hail, dear Pedlar—
King of our Evergreen:
Santa! Santa!
Holly-crown’d saint of us!
Hail, eternal
Wise man and child!

(During this Chorus and while it continues, Santa—with beaming face—opens his great pack and distributes forth gifts to the Children, the Outcasts, and the Host of Herod, who now rise joyfully and press round him. Chorus now answers Chorus across the assembled People, the deep voices of the Men’s Chorus (B) now singing in Antiphony.)

Part II. (Choruses A and B) The Tree
Who wakened her heart with song for the coming of light?
Who harked for the morning stars their singing together?
The Tree! The Tree!
The Evergreen Tree!
The light of her heart hath blossomed—
Hath bloomed with stars
In the places of desert.
Who nourished a dream in the lone wilderness,
Where wild beasts kill one another and weary of killing?


The Tree! The Tree!
The Evergreen Tree!
The power of her dream hath blossomed
With blinding stars
In the hearts of the terrible.
Herod, lord of the world! Who hath defeated his power?
A star! A star doth confound him!
Herod, sword of the world! Who hath surmounted his cunning?
A child! A child hath disarmed him!
Herod, wrath of the world! What hath o’erthrown his dominion?
A dream! A dream hath survived him!


Part III. (Choruses A and B) The Child

(Appearing in their over-garments of White, look toward the place of Herod while they sing.)

Where are ye that through the blindness of the slaughter,
Through the terror and the tempest of the night,—
Where are ye that bowed you down to a helmet and a crown?
Have you seen the Child His stars?
Have you heard the morning stars—
His stars that sing around the Tree of light?
Will you hasten? Will you heed?
Will you bind His wounds that bleed?
Will you build his works of joy and charity?
Are you risen? Do you hark?
Are you coming through the dark—
Are you coming, are you coming to the Tree?

(In their over-garments of Red, rise from the place of their singing, and move forward in procession toward the Chorus in White.)

Here are we that knew the blindness of the slaughter,
Knew the terror and the tempest of the night:
Here are we that bowed us down to a helmet and a crown,
But we’ve seen the Child His stars,
We have heard the morning stars—
His stars that sing around the Tree of light.[66]
We will hasten! We will heed!
We will bind His wounds that bleed;
We will build His works of joy and charity.
We are risen, and we hark!
We are coming through the dark—
We are coming, we are coming to the Tree!

(As they approach the Tree, the Singers of Chorus B lay off their Red over-garments and join the Chorus in White. The two Choruses now form one.

Joined, in their singing, by the Host of Herod, the Outcasts, and by All the Assembled People, they raise their Voices together.)

Child of God, forgive the blindness and the slaughter!
Child of Pity, calm the terror of the night!
Yea, and all that bow them down to a helmet and a crown—
Let them see, like us, Thy stars!
Let them join the morning stars—
Thy stars that sing around the Tree of light!
Child of Heaven, now we heed!
We will bind Thy wounds that bleed;
We will build Thy works of joy and charity.
We are risen in Thy right:
We are singing through the night—
We are singing, we are singing to the Tree!

The Pedlar-King

Bow, Host of Herod! Bow ye down
And hail our Saint of Evergreen:
Hail Santa Claus!

The Morning Stars

Child of Heaven, now we heed!
We will bind Thy wounds that bleed,
We will build Thy works of joy and charity:
We are risen in Thy right,
We are singing through the night—
We are singing, we are singing to the Tree!




Ground Plan of “The Evergreen Tree”

(Not drawn to Scale)

(For Standard Outdoor Production—Alterable for Indoors)




In producing this Masque, different communities will doubtless wish to observe different ways of assembling to prepare and begin its production.

Some, especially those given on a small scale, may need and desire no prelusive form of ceremony, in action, speech or song.

For productions given on a larger scale, however, since a receptive and devotional state of feeling is greatly to be desired for its proper rendering and its impression upon those who witness and take part, it is strongly recommended that some kind of brief, general Song Overture of the people be held just before the Masque begins.

With this need in mind, the suggestions here made by the author are given for whatever service they may render to the desired end.

As Prelude to the production of “The Evergreen Tree,” the following kind of Song Overture and informal Ceremony are suggested for such large-scale types of the Masque’s production as are witnessed and performed by all classes, races, ages and creeds of the community.

After night-fall, on a winter’s evening, let us imagine men, women and children of a town or city gathered together out of doors in a public square or park, or indoors within some level-floored structure, to assemble by the community Christmas Tree, and to join in general singing under a leader.

The Leader will gather the best trained singers at a central place (indicated by the roped-off circle in the Ground Plan on the page opposite), and will start the community singing, or guide its spontaneous beginnings under his leadership.


The trained Chorus will perhaps sing the “Adeste Fidelis,” or “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing,” and the carollers will raise their voices in such old Christmas songs as may best appeal to them. So, perhaps for twenty minutes or half an hour, the singers will hold an informal Overture, in which all the gathered people may have joined.

Meanwhile, or beforehand, the Chorus will have put on their outer garments of red and white (designed according to Mr. Jones’ costume suggestions), and will have divided into their two separate bodies—(1) the mixed voices, Chorus A, and (2) the male choir, Chorus B.

Then the Chorus Leader, or some one appointed by him, when the Masque is almost ready to begin, will rise at the centre—visible above the heads of the Chorus and the people—and will speak to the assemblage, perhaps in his own words, or perhaps—using some portion or all of the speech here given—he will speak substantially as follows:

Neighbors and Friends—we have been singing together:
Wherever friends sing together out of their hearts
There God sings with them.
We believe many different ideas, many differing creeds.—
To-night let us forget how we differ:
Let us remember only how we believe in one great thing—
One Spirit in common—and this is its holy name:
Singing Together.
In old, old times, when plays were sung by the people,
They built for them altars, sacred places of singing;
And before their dramas began,
They used to pray there
And ask a blessing on the players, on the chorus and the people.
And there, on those altars, they wrote the name of their Lord.
Friends, we are gathered here now by an old, old altar:
The altar of Song—
Song of the people: old, young; happy, sad; rich and poor.
We cannot see it with our eyes,
But we know it in our hearts;
And there we can read what is written—the name of our Lord,
Whose hallowed name is called
Singing Together.
Now out of our Singing will rise an Acted Pageant
To tell an old story newly—
The story of a Child.
Over yonder, by the Christmas Tree—there is the Wilderness,
The Place of Outcasts:
Over there—is the Gate of a Palace: the Palace of Herod—
Herod, the mighty king in the Bible,
His place of Empire;
And there—and there—are two Paths, that lead to the Tree.
Now let us sing one more carol,
And take our places;
Then listen, and watch for a sign, while the Chorus sings:
And when all is over—each of us, all together,
Let us raise up our hearts and voices to one great Spirit
That will make of us all one people:
The Spirit whose glorious name is
Singing Together.

So concluding, the Chorus Leader and his Assistant Leader will accompany their Choruses (the one—Chorus A, the other—Chorus B) to the places where they sit during the Masque (indicated on the diagram) in front of their respective stages.

As they go to their places, the Choruses will sing the carol “Good King Wencelas.” Then, when all is still, the Masque of “The Evergreen Tree” will commence with the Chorus of the Wilderness.



At the conclusion of the Masque, it is not advisable that any other formal ceremony should follow.

The participants, the children and the people will naturally be gathering about Santa Claus and partaking of the gifts from his pack, or otherwise sharing in happy festivity.

In order, however, that the Masque shall not end in a general, disordered scattering of the assemblage, it is recommended that those in costume, including the Choruses (now united), shall march in good order to the places of their costuming, or to such other places as the Director of the Masque may designate, singing together stanzas of the Masque hymn—easily learned, in unison, to the appealing music of Arthur Farwell—

“Glory and serenity,
Beauty of desire,
Bless to-night this holy tree
And our candle-fire.”—etc.



By Percy MacKaye

The allurement of the communal field in drama is its freshness of opportunity—its infinite potential variety.

Definitions have not yet hedged it; criticism has not yet charted, nor pedagogy catalogued its boundless horizons and creative streams; commercialism has not yet invaded its unstinted harvests, to store and can them for the market, under the labels of middlemen.

So, in approaching this realm of “The Evergreen Tree,” I have felt something of that thrill of discovery which must more often have been felt in earlier days on American soil: a feeling, I think, such as John Muir once told me he experienced when he gazed first, from the top of a great tree, over uncharted miles of the redwood region. Only here I have seemed to look upon the conjoining of a great, structural continent—the Drama—with a primal sea—the tides of Community Song, now carolling in quiet inlets, now choral with tempestuous music from fathomless deeps.

If, then, I were to suggest the nature of this kind of community drama by a topographical line, rather than by a definition of theory, I would do so perhaps by a line such as this:


wherein the rising pyramid would represent an emerging contour of that continent (the Drama), whose base is submerged and fused with those singing tides (Community Music).

So perhaps, as dramatist, I might suggest the coming together of those two realms or “movements” of social art, to which my friend Arthur Farwell refers in his comments, as composer.

Obviously, this coming together implies a new technique of the community dramatist—a technique not for a hollowed amphitheatre (that of the traditional theatre), but for a level assembly place (that of the cathedral): where visually, from a floor thronged with choral communicants, there rises a sharp focal point of dramatic action—a small raised stage, for such few acting characters as are typical of the community dramatic ritual.

So the setting of the Masque takes form according to its nature (as indicated by the Ground Plan opposite page 69, and by the worded description in the front of this volume). And so, as the dramatic architect by his design shapes the conditions for the coöperation of the composer, he shapes also the conditions for the coöperation of the scenic producer—in this case, Robert Edmond Jones, whose fresh and fertile genius becomes in a production as significant for the eye as the creative ardor of Arthur Farwell does for the ear.

In the following pages, each of these representative artists describes briefly his distinctive approach and viewpoint toward the ensemble production. As well as may be in brief space, we hope thus to suggest—for all who read the Masque with a view to its performance on however simple a scale—something of our own feelings for the right creative and interpretive approach to this fresh field, in which we are planning to coöperate personally in at least some one production of “The Evergreen Tree.”

In the pioneering attempt of this Masque, my own purpose is to dramatize community singing—for conditions of our own time, especially in America, during this new, formative period which the world war has begun.

In other lands and ages of folk art, community song has been dramatized, as it can only be dramatized vitally, by artists moved by the spirit of religion; and relics of such forms still[75] survive amongst us in rituals of the churches. But these rituals necessarily have attained their growth—nobly classic at their best, at their worst—dully disintegrated.

Now new forces of an age religiously urgent for democracy demand a re-creation of the forms of folk art, plastic to the living currents of the new time. These currents, though continuous from the past, widen now between strange banks and other horizons; though perennial, they require fresh coördination.

The carol, for instance, and the ballad—old forms of folk art—survive with us only in their archaic appeal. We in America cannot hope or wisely desire to revive them for what they once were—spontaneous expressions of continuous communal life in villages and peasant heaths, for that life has gone from us, not to return. But we can do this—and in so doing, give them new life. We can relate them definitely to a form of art for us still living and indigenous—to the drama, and essentially to that community kind of drama which is but now beginning its renascence of world forms portentous for the future.

So in “The Evergreen Tree,” perhaps for the first time, I have embodied the acted carol and the acted ballad as structural parts of a dramatic unity—a communal dramatic unity, to which the forms of folk music are allied and essential.

Here, then, comes into being a new kind of music drama—far removed from the connotation of opera—a Song Drama of the people. From this, speech will not be absent; but it will necessarily be related to the simplicity of folk song and folk poetry, in being rhythmic and chantable in its cadences—taking on forms of spoken poetry definitely related to the people’s poetry of song.

This Song Drama, too, of its nature—though susceptible of splendid pageantry—will depend, for its dramatic conflict, far less on wills opposed in visual action than on contrasted emotions of song—of choral song, thus bringing again the Chorus back to its rightful place, heard and visible, among the people—as with the Greeks; only now for us it becomes a double Chorus, oppositional in will and definitely divided in two parts (the antiphonal Choruses, A and B, of this Masque, costumed also in visual contrast), until its parts become reconciled in emotion,[76] when—both aurally and visibly—the two unite, as at the end of “The Evergreen Tree.”

This much at least expresses my conception of a new art implied in the present work—not as an a priori theory, nor as a generalization for others—but as the working method which has seemed for me best adapted to perform a definite task in the community field involved.

The theme of the Masque I will only touch upon here to say that, in inventing its legend of Caspar and Claus, I hope I may not wholly miss that unconscious approval, which would be dearer than any other—the belief of the children.

Cornish, N. H.,
September, 1917.


By Arthur Farwell

The birth of our national self-consciousness in music, from the creative standpoint, occurred less than twenty years ago. Not until the last two decades did the prodigious musical studies of our young people at home and abroad produce composers in sufficient quantity to make American music, its character and potentialities, a national question.

Even so brief a period as this has, however, sufficed to witness a succession of distinct phases in our national musical attitude and achievement, phases so strongly contrasted as to represent radical changes of artistic tendency and almost complete reversals in belief and direction of effort.

The last and greatest of these changes is that one which has withdrawn attention from the composer as an abstract phenomenon, and from fruitless theories of American music, and has centered it upon the immediate service which music can render to the people of our nation. In the long run, the nation cannot go one way and its music another. That the ideal in the spirit of music must sooner or later, in this country, be reconciled to and wedded with the ideal of the spirit of democracy, is an idea which has met with general acceptance only in the last three years, although it has been ardently championed by a few individuals for nearly two decades.

Taking its rise in the compelling necessity of this principle, the “community music” movement has swept the country in the last few years, plunging it anew into violent discussion, annihilating personal theories and products of the musical hot-house, demanding the wholesome and the true—and giving the people expression.

In this movement the composer of the music for “The Evergreen Tree” has been immersed. In the communal dramatic work and ideas of Percy MacKaye, he has recognized a similar development in the art of the theatre. It was inevitable that these two movements should come together and unite their powers in seeking to make a helpful contribution to the quest for a drama—and should it not truly be a music drama?—that shall[78] serve most appropriately the deep need of the American people for expression in such a form.

Anything which may prove to be of worth in my compositions for “The Evergreen Tree,” I owe to the new influx of life which I have received from my contact with the soul of the people, as revealed in the movement which is making us a singing nation.

Cornish, N. H.,
September, 1917.

By Robert Edmond Jones

The drawings in this book will prove most helpful if they are thought of merely as notes to be amplified or varied according to the special needs of each community production.

Different communities will develop the main scheme in various ways.

The production indicated here is on a large scale in the open air; but the arrangement of stages and aisles is equally impressive in the smallest church.

Facilities for lighting will vary widely in different communities.

Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t an elaborate electric equipment at your disposal. Think how beautiful the Masque might be, done by candle-light in an old country meetinghouse!

The costumes are extremely simple, and depend largely for their effectiveness on the dignity with which they are worn.

The two Choruses wear surplice-like over-garments, red or white. Elf suggests a butterfly: Gnome, a beetle: Tree, a Fra Angelico angel. Wolf, Bear and Lion wear masks, rudely made, like mummers of the Middle Ages. Wolf’s tail is attached to a belt, which he pulls from side to side.

Gnome Tree Elf

Tree wears green hose bound with silver thongs, a green smock on which the tree symbol is embroidered in silver, and flat silver wings. Later, Tree appears in a white smock with the symbol in gold. Gnome wears loose green trousers, a long tunic striped black and white and two long coats, orange over green. The hood has eyes of red, white and black at the sides. Elf wears a white smock with silver bells (mute) and butterfly spots of red and black.

Bear Wolf Lion

The three beasts wear masks of white cloth stretched over a foundation of cardboard or buckram. Wolf wears a blue-and-white striped jerkin over blue leggings bound with white, and a big gray tail, fastened to a belt. Bear has a padded gray coat over loose padded leggings. Lion’s jerkin and hose are gray, with fringes and thongs of red.

Joseph Mary Shepherds

Joseph, Mary and the Shepherds wear semi-circular cloaks over long, loose under-robes. Joseph’s cape is white over a blue robe; Mary wears blue over white; the Shepherds are in white. Joseph’s cap is blue with a white band; his lantern has star-shaped panes.

Host of Herod Herod Captain

Herod wears a triple gold crown and a heavy robe of scarlet on which is a black design edged with white buttons. His staff is gold. The drawings for the Captain and the Host show the costume adapted to army use. The Host wears a scarlet tunic over the Khaki; the Captain a great scarlet cloak edged with a scimitar design in white. The Captain’s shield is silver and black; the other, silver and scarlet.

Belshasar Caspar Melchior

Belshasar: a cloak of blue, banded with white, over a long black robe; a high-crowned turban, blue and white. Melchior: a blue cloak with zigzag trimmings of black and white, a black gown, a black-and-white helmet with a red hood. Caspar wears a high-peaked hat of brilliant orange and a great orange cloak trimmed with bands of red and white and large white buttons. Underneath he wears a costume exactly like that of Claus: long high boots and a red jerkin trimmed with conventionalized holly leaves in green and edged with white fur. All three kings wear gold crowns.

Followers of Belshasar Followers of Caspar Followers of Melchior

The costumes of the Followers recall those of the three kings, but are more simply made: the Followers of Belshasar wear blue capes over black gowns, white hoods and tall, blue hats; the Followers of Caspar wear coats of orange banded with white over green gowns sashed with red, and orange hats; the Followers of Melchior have black gowns and blue capes with black-and-white designs like those on Melchior’s costume.

Sorrow Song Death Poverty

Sorrow, Poverty and Death are in black and white. Song wears white with bands of blue, and a wreath of white flowers in her hair. The Followers have costumes cut exactly like those of their leaders, but of gray instead of white. The Followers of Song carry long silver trumpets.

Ruth Claus The Children Chorus B

Ruth wears a white jacket over a red bodice and a gray skirt over a black-and-white striped under-skirt. Claus has high boots, a red jerkin edged with white fur and a red cap also edged with white fur. There should be no green trimming on his jerkin. His costume and Ruth’s should be extremely ragged and the two children should be roughly wrapped in rags. Chorus B wears a short red coat with white bands and a design of spear-heads on the shoulders. When this coat is removed at the end of the Masque, the white coat of Chorus A is seen. This bears a tree in green on either shoulder.


Nearly all the other costumes consist of a simple, cloak-like undergarment, over which are worn tunics and robes to characterize the Host of Herod, the Shepherds, the Followers of the Three Kings, or the Outcasts. There is nothing realistic in these clothes: they merely suggest the characters, broadly, as if they were made by children for a child’s play. They may be carried out by any dressmaker in inexpensive materials—muslin, cambric, cheesecloth, flannel—keeping always to a few brilliant, flat colors: strong red, strong blue, black and white, gray, and orange.

Make these costumes yourselves: use your own ingenuity in cutting and draping them: wear them with a sense of what each costume means. Then your ceremony will be beautiful.

New York,
September, 1917.



The Masque is performed in Twelve Actions, taking place as follows:

First Action: Stage A (Chorus; Speech).

Second Action: Aisle I (Carol; Processional).

Third Action: Stage A (Carol; Speech).

Fourth Action: Approaching Space and Steps A; then Stage A (Chorus; Carols; Speech).

Fifth Action: Stage B (Chorus; Speech).

Sixth Action: Stage A (Chorus; Speech).

Seventh Action: Aisle II (Carol; Processional).

Eighth Action: Stage A (Carols; Speech).

Ninth Action: Stage B and Aisle I (Choral Song; Chorus; Processional; Pantomime).

Tenth Action: Stage A (Carol; Speech).

Eleventh Action: Aisle I and Aisle II (Choral Song; Processional).

Twelfth Action: Stage A (Chorus; Speech).




for the Choruses and Carols of “The Evergreen Tree” has been composed by


and is Published, with the Words of the Same, by

The John Church Company

39 West 32nd Street, New York City. Price $1.50


of the Masque can be adapted to any scale of expense, simple or elaborate, and to any practical number of participants, few or many. With a view to assisting any community, army camp, or naval station, to organize and adapt a production to its own local conditions,


a Series of Questions and Answers relating to all phases to the Masque’s production, has been compiled by Percy J. Burrell, under sanction of the Author, Composer and Costume Designer, and will be sent, by The John Church Company, on request, free of expense to any one interested.

No Performance Without Permission first having been obtained, and No Public Readings, where money is charged for admission, can legally be given.

PERMISSION MAY BE OBTAINED to produce this Masque, or to read it in Public, by applying to the Masque Organizer of “The Evergreen Tree,” 39 West 32nd Street, New York (Care The John Church Company), who will be glad to supply further information and to arrange, wherever practicable, for personal conference in regard to productions.