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An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To demonstrate how storytelling is an effective means of communicating a message.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a piece of music that includes a narrative and the means to play it during the assembly. An example is Streets of London by Ralph McTell, which is 7.06 minutes long and is available at:

  • Optional: you may wish to use two readers to read a fable by Aesop and the Bible passage Luke 10.29-37.


  1. Wait for silence and then, in a loud voice, say, ONCE UPON A TIME . . .’

    Pause for a moment and then repeat the words in a slightly quieter voice, but with a tone of excitement.

  2. Those words, ‘Once upon a time’, are magical. They are words that many of us will associate with a time when we were young and spellbound by a story. The phrase ‘Once upon a time’ is like a magical door opening to draw us into the world of the story.

  3. We all have our favourite stories. Some of us can probably still name the ones we loved best from when we cuddled up to someone while they read to us. When we were little, we probably asked for the same story again and again! Some of us may still remember falling asleep locked into the magic of those words.

  4. There are many famous storytellers: Charles Dickens, Hans Christian Andersen, J. R. R. Tolkien, William Shakespeare and J. K. Rowling, to name a few. However, there are many other less famous storytellers who have brought us joy and enriched our lives.

  5. Often, the success of a storyteller is not only in the characters that they use, and the plot that unravels, but also the message behind the story – the deeper meaning. Maybe the triumph of good over evil, or a message of hope.

    One of the greatest storytellers came from the Ancient Greek world. His name was Aesop and he told a type of story called a fable. This is one of his fables about a journey that he undertook.

    Ask a student to read the following fable, or read it yourself if you prefer.

    One day, I was walking away from my home town when I met a stranger going towards the town. We stopped and chatted for a while, and after a short time, the man said, You come from that town. Tell me, what sort of people are they there?
    Tell me first, I replied, what the people of your own home town are like.
    Oh, he said, they are a very disagreeable bunch. They are mean and selfish and very quarrelsome.
    Well, I said, I am sorry to tell you that you will find the people of my home town just the same.
    I left the man and walked on. A little further down the road, I met another man coming in the same direction to visit my home town. He asked me the same question about what the people of my town were like, and once again, I asked him what the people of his town were like.
    Oh, he said, ‘they are a very pleasant bunch. They are kind and friendly, good neighbours and welcoming.
    Well, I said, I am happy to tell you that you will find the people of my home town just the same.

    In this story, then, we are reminded that the way in which we treat people will be reflected in the way they treat us. Be kind to others and they will be kind to you. Very simple.

  6. When Jesus was on Earth, he often told parables, which are stories that have a special meaning. Some of Jesus’ stories are the most famous in the world.

    Ask a student to read the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10.29-37, or read it yourself if you prefer.

  7. This story is probably very familiar to us and reminds us of the message that we should treat all people equally, with fairness and kindness.

Time for reflection

Stories are an inspiring way to pass on a message. They grip our imaginations, enable us to feel what the characters are feeling and lead us on a journey into greater understanding.

Sometimes, song writers use their music to tell a story.

Show the YouTube video Streets of London by Ralph McTell, which is 7.06 minutes long and is available at:

Let us give thanks for the gift of words, which can join together to make stories that we enjoy so much.
May we always be willing to listen to the messages of hope and love that stories can bring.
May we be willing to learn lessons that will help us in the journey of our lives.

Publication date: December 2016   (Vol.18 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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