Taos Aglow

Faith-based tradition in Taos: Los Pastores

Hispanic folk drama/musical about the shepherds’ pilgrimage to honor the Christ Child

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It’s good for the soul to step away from the darkness and pettiness of the world and instead focus on the truer meaning of this time of year: Good will. The longtime local favorite Christmas play “Los Pastores,” which revolves around the shepherds’ journey to Bethlehem in search of the baby Jesus, delivers on good will; as does Mary and Joseph’s arduous search for shelter and food as brought to life in “Las Posadas.”

“Los Pastores” is a time-honored Hispanic folk drama/musical about the shepherds’ pilgrimage to honor the Christ Child. It is a reminder that good always triumphs over evil. This traditional play depicts Lucifer as the persistent interrupter and unsuccessful wicked influence who tries to impede the shepherds’ quest. It is considered to be one of the most musical of all the morality plays from the 16th century. This tale of poetic lines is intertwined with abundant music performed in Spanish, actually 16th-century Spanish with pantomime so everyone can understand.

Arsenio Córdova and his family (his wife, Kathy and daughter, Tessa) know this play well. They have been at the heart of its presentation for the last 38 years through their El Prado-based company, Sangre de Cristo Liturgies.

“The play was presented in early times so that people would understand good will always wins over evil,” Arsenio Córdova explained. “This is illustrated by the fight between Michael the Archangel who defeated Lucifer and then people go on to worship the Christ child (Santo Niño).”

The play, he believes, probably originated in Spain brought to Mexico by missionaries. He feels that around 1531 was most likely the first staging of it in Mexico. He has researched the many variations of this play from Spain to Mexico, even traveling to Spain to look at some of the earliest scripts.

Due to lingering health issues, Tessa Córdova is taking her father’s place as play director although he will be present at the performances. Tessa is not changing the traditional, intergenerational script or cast of characters her father brought to life.

“It’s a beautiful thing. The prayer is strong,” Tessa conveyed.” (Her father’s) voice will always be the voice.”

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