A Lessons & Carols Service for Christmastide — A Sanctified Art

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PRELUDE

WELCOME

Use this time to welcome congregants to worship, share announcements, recognize any guest musicians you might have, and explain the service. You might include some information about the history of Lessons & Carols services, such as, “The tradition of the Lessons & Carols service goes back to 19th century England. This special service proclaims the Word not through a sermon but through nine ‘lessons,’ or scripture readings, and nine accompanying carols. Tonight’s service honors the structure of this traditional service while incorporating different scripture readings and carols to tell the Christmas story.”

CALL TO WORSHIP (based on Isaiah 2:2-5)

In days to come, the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.

Many peoples shall come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.

O house of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord!

CAROL: “O Come, All Ye Faithful

THE FIRST LESSON: Isaiah 11:1-10

CAROL: “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear”

THE SECOND LESSON: Isaiah 35:1-10

CAROL: “Joy to the World”

THE THIRD LESSON: Matthew 1:1-17

CAROL: “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”

THE FOURTH LESSON: Luke 1:26-38

CAROL: “The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came”

THE FIFTH LESSON: Matthew 1:18-25

CAROL: “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”

THE SIXTH LESSON: Luke 1:39-58

CAROL: “Canticle of the Turning”

Note: This hymn is included in Glory to God and other modern hymnals. Sheet music can be purchased here. Alternate public domain suggestion: “O Holy Night”

THE SEVENTH LESSON: Luke 2:1-7

CAROL: “O Little Town of Bethlehem”

THE EIGHTH LESSON: Luke 2:8-20

CAROL: “Angels We Have Heard on High”

THE NINTH LESSON: Matthew 2:1-12

Note: If you would like to include an offering during this service, conclude the reading of the Ninth Lesson with a statement such as, “As the Magi brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to celebrate the birth of Christ, let us now bring our gifts before God,” and collect the offering during the next carol.

CAROL: “The First Noel”

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH (based on John 1:1-14)

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through him,
and without him not one thing came into being.
What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.
He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him,
yet the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us,
and we have seen his glory,
the glory as of a father’s only son,
full of grace and truth.

BENEDICTION

 Note: This is the benediction included in the From Generation to Generation…Words for Worship resource.

As you leave this place, may you go knowing that
from generation to generation,
we have been claimed and loved.
From generation to generation,
God has been by our side.
From generation to generation,
we are not alone.
The God of yesterday and the God of tomorrow
knows you by name, loves you, and calls you forth,
saying, “Go be the person you are called to be,
love wildly, do justice, and come back soon.”
May it be so. Amen.

POSTLUDE

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