Book by Barry and Cornelius Booth, Music by Barry Booth, Lyrics by Barry Booth, Cornelius Booth and Barry Fantoni
A musical to be performed by children, written by Barry and Cornelius Booth with lyrics by Barry Fantoni - an everyday story of religious intolerence and magic in 10th century Norway.
A son is born to a noble couple in seventh century Norway, and a party is held to celebrate the birth. The Three Norns (Scandanavian equivalent of the three Fates of Greek Mythology) appear at the celebration to bless the child. Urd and Verdandi, the two Norns representing the past and the present, bless the child with the promise of fame and bardic talent. The third Norn, Skuld, is about to bless the child when she is knocked over by an enthusiastic late-comer. She grabs a candle and in her fury declares that when the candle burns its last the child will die. The despair of the family and guests turn to joy, however, when the other Norns point out that if the candle is blown out now while there is still a wick left then the candle may still be relit and so has not burnt its last. They advise the noble couple to keep the extinguished candle unlit and safe, thereby ensuring eternal life. In honour of this blessing the baby is named Nornagest.
Centuries pass and Nornagest becomes a great bard and story-teller, travelling around Norway, singing songs of the Nordic Gods and the old religion. At a tavern, he learns that the current king, Olaf Tryggvasson, is attempting to convert Norway to the new faith of the White Christ by fire and sword. Nornagest is warned that to speak the old stories is now a crime. Nornagest's fame has reached the ears of the king and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
Later, Nornagest encounters two poor beggars who have been beaten by the king's men for following the old religion. Nornagest gives them aid, an act witnessed by a passing christian priest, Patrick. He is moved by the Nornagest's charity but is set upon by an angry mob. Nornagest intervenes and saves him from the lynching. The King's Men arrive and, having arrested Nornagest, escort him to the palace.
King Olaf is holding a great feast. After various entertainments, Nornagest is brought before the King who derides him and his claims of immortality. Nornagest is commanded to sing, but his songs are those of the old faith and enrage Olaf. Patrick, present as the King's christian adviser attempts to protect Nornagest from the King's wrath, but to no avail. The King, to prove the invalidity of the myth surrounding Nornagest's Immortality, commands Nornagest to produce and light the candle not lit since his birth, which all this time Nornagest has kept safe in the body of his harp. Unable to refuse a royal command, Nornagest lights the candle and sings as it burns down. Finally, the candle gutters out and, to the stunned amazement of all, Nornagest sinks to the floor and dies.