Christmas 1, 2019 – “Lessons and Carols”

Title:Christmas 1, 2019 – “Lessons and Carols”

 Christmas I, Year A, Lesson and Carols , Dec. 29, 2019 – Baptism and Christmas Play (full size gallery)

Lessons and Carols is traditionally presented on the Sunday after Christmas. Where the Christmas lessons are specific on the birth of Jesus, Lessons and Carols puts the event in perspective covering the earlier Old Testament as well as the New Testament events leading up to Christ’s birth.

The service, first held after World War I in 1918, was planned by Eric Milner-White, who at the age of thirty-four had just been appointed Dean of King’s College. His experience as an army chaplain had convinced him that the Church of England needed more imaginative worship.

He actually reached back to an earlier time for a service structure. The original service was, in fact, adapted from an Order drawn up by E.W. Benson, later Archbishop of Canterbury, for use in the wooden shed, which then served as his cathedral in Truro, at 10 pm on Christmas Eve 1880. AC Benson recalled: ‘My father arranged from ancient sources a little service for Christmas Eve – nine carols and nine tiny lessons, which were read by various officers of the Church, beginning with a chorister, and ending, through the different grades, with the Bishop.”

The service structure is simple. Traditionally, “Once in Royal David City” is the opening hymn, following by the lovely Bidding Prayer by the priest. 9 Old and New Testament readings alternate with hymns. The content of the service is flexible though one reading must be from Genesis. There is no sermon or communion. It ends with a closing collect and dismissal. Catherine chose readings that emphasized Jesus birth and subsequent events such as the Presentation in the temple with a hymn for which she crafted the words.

The readings and hymns are in the bulletin. The connecting link between the service readings and the lectionary is John’s Prologue John 1:1-18 which is the last reading in the service.

We had 22 in the service with rain developing at mid-morning though with mild temperatures. We also celebrated Linda Upshaw’s birthday which was today.

One of the highlights of the service is the opening Bidding Prayer at the beginning:

“Beloved in Christ, be it this Christmastide our care and delight to hear again the message of the angels, and in heart and mind to go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass, and the Babe lying in a manger.

“Therefore let us read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience unto the glorious Redemption brought us by this Holy Child.

“But first, let us pray for the needs of the whole world; for peace on earth and goodwill among all his people; for unity and brotherhood within the Church he came to build, and especially in this city (town, village) of … and diocese of …

“And because this of all things would rejoice his heart, let us remember, in his name, the poor and helpless, the cold, the hungry, and the oppressed; the sick and them that mourn, the lonely and the unloved, the aged and the little children; all those who know not the Lord Jesus, or who love him not, or who by sin have grieved his heart of love.

“Lastly, let us remember before God all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore, and in a greater light, that multitude which no man can number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom in the Lord Jesus we are for ever one.

“These prayers and praises let us humbly offer up to the Throne of Heaven, in the words which Christ himself hath taught us:

Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil; for thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

“May the Almighty God bless us with his grace; Christ give us the joys of everlasting life, and unto the fellowship of the citizens above may the King of Angels bring us all. Amen.”