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Alternative Voices

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To consider that everybody should be heard.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a leader and three readers, who will need time to practise prior to the assembly.


Leader: We use our voices all the time: we whisper, we shout and sometimes, we speak normally. Our voices are important because they help others to understand what we mean. For example, we emphasize things, change the tone or sound excited or cross.

Reader 1: But we have other voices, too, other ways of speaking. It may be our body language: raising an eyebrow or using a gesture. Our whole life is a voice, a collection of sounds and movement. This voice is a gift that we can all share.

Reader 2: In many religions, people speak with God frequently. After all, speaking is the way we communicate most often. In the Bible, we find some unusual ways of God speaking.

Reader 3: Mary is told of the birth of Jesus by a visiting angel. Joseph is told of Jesus’ birth in a dream.

Leader: God speaks to a boy called Samuel by name.

Reader 1: Joseph, of technicolour-dreamcoat fame, is spoken to in dreams that he then interprets.

Reader 2: When Jesus was baptized, a voice came from heaven saying, ‘This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.’

Reader 3: Today, we will look at two examples of what it means to have a voice.

Leader: The first example is from On Sight and Insight by John Hull. John Hull was Emeritus Professor of Religious Education at the University of Birmingham and went blind in his forties. At first, he felt that going blind was a great burden, but as time passed, he began to see it as a gift, a gift from God. In this short passage, he uses his voice to speak to God.

Reader 1: The passage is called ‘Accepting the gift’.

On Sunday 27 April, I went with Michael to Mass in Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal. 
I found myself thinking again about blindness as a gift. I found myself saying, I accept the gift. I accept the gift. I was filled with a profound sense of worship. I felt I was in the very presence of God, that the giver of the gift had drawn near to me as one who hardly dares to look upon the fruits of his work . . . God had, as it were, thrown a cloak of darkness around me from a distance, but had drawn near to seek a kind of reassurance from me that everything was all right, that he had not misjudged the situation, that he did not have to stay. Its all right, I was saying to him. Theres no need to wait. Go on, you can go now, everythings fine.

Reader 2: The second example of what it means to have a voice is how babies communicate. We all have a voice, even the smallest of us. Babies cant speak like we can, but even they have a voice. Their voice is often a cry that is impossible to ignore.

Reader 3: Babies cant speak our language, but we quickly learn their way of communicating!

Time for reflection

Leader: Let us give thanks for the power of speech and the ability to communicate. Let us ask God for the ability to speak with compassion and sympathy. Let us be willing to look out for the ways in which people are communicating with us. Let us not ignore people simply because they are shy or quiet – we should recognize that every person deserves to be heard.

Dear God,
elp us to listen to the voices of others.
elp us to have the courage to learn from those who dont speak our language.
lease give us patience to listen to the voices of others.
elp us to take the time to listen to the still small voice in our own hearts.

Publication date: November 2023   (Vol.25 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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