Christmas Festival of Lessons and Music
From the Book of Occasional Services
The following bidding and lessons may be used at a festival during the twelve days of Christmas.
If the festival takes place in the evening, it may be introduced by the Service of Light (Book of Common Prayer, page 109). The seasonal Lucernarium (below) or Psalm 113 may be sung during the candle lighting. After the Phos Hilaron or the hymn sung in place of it, the service continues with the bidding prayer.
A Bidding Prayer Traditional
Beloved in Christ, in this Christmastide, let it be 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 the manger.
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; and let us make this place glad with our carols of praise.
But first, let us pray for the needs of his whole world; for peace and goodwill over all the earth; for the mission and unity of the Church for which he died, and especially in this country and within this city.
And because this of all things would rejoice his heart, let us at this time remember in his name the poor and the helpless; the hungry and the oppressed; the sick and those who mourn; the lonely and the unloved; the aged and the little children; and 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 his pure and lowly Mother, and all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore and in a greater light, that multitude which no one can number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom, in this Lord Jesus, we for evermore are one.
These prayers and praises let us humbly offer up to the throne of heaven, in the words which Christ himself hath taught us:
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.
A Bidding Prayer Contemporary
Dear People of God: in this Christmas Season, let it be our duty and delight to hear once more the message of the Angels, to go to Bethlehem, and see the Son of God lying in the manger.
Let us hear and heed in Holy Scripture the story of God's loving purpose from the time of our rebellion against him until the glorious redemption brought to us by his holy child Jesus; and let us make this place glad with our carols of praise.
But first, let us pray for the needs of his whole world; for peace and justice on earth, for the unity and mission of the Church for which he died, and especially for his Church in our country and in this city.
And because he particularly loves them, let us remember in his name the poor and the helpless, the cold, the hungry and the oppressed, the sick and those who mourn, the lonely and unloved, the aged and little children, as well as those who do not know and love the Lord Jesus Christ.
Finally, let us remember before God his pure and lowly Mother, and that whole multitude which no one can number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom, in Jesus, we are one for evermore.
And now, to sum up all these petitions, let us pray in the words which Christ himself has taught us, saying:
The Almighty God bless us with his grace; Christ give us the joys of everlasting life; and to the fellowship of the citizens above may the King of Angels bring us all. Amen.
Nine Lessons are customarily selected (but fewer may be used), interspersed with appropriate carols, hymns, canticles, and anthems. When possible, each lesson is read by a different lector. The lesson from the third chapter of Genesis is never omitted.
Genesis 2:4b-9, 15-25 (God creates man and woman to live in obedience to him in the Garden of Eden)
Genesis 3:1-22 or 3:1-15 (Adam & Eve rebel against God and are cast out of the Garden of Eden)
Isaiah 40:1-11 (God comforts his people and calls on them to prepare for redemption)
Isaiah 35:1-10 (The prophet proclaims that God will come and save us
Isaiah 7:10-15 (God promises that a child shall be conceived who will be known as "God with us")
Luke 1:5-25 (And angel announces to Zechariah that his wife Elizabeth will bear a son
Luke 1:26-58 (The Angel Gabriel announces to the Virgin Mary that she will bear the Son of the Most High)
Luke 1:39-46 or 1:39-56 (The Virgin Mary is greeted by Elizabeth and proclaims her joy)
Luke 1:57-80 (John the Baptist is born and his father rejoices that his son will prepare the way of the Lord)
Luke 2:1-20 (Jesus is born at Bethlehem and is worshipped by angels and shepherds)
Luke 2:21-36 (Jesus receives his name and is presented to Simeon in the temple)
Hebrew 1:1-12 (In the fullness of time, God sent his Son whose reign is for ever and ever)
John 1:1-18 (The Word was made flesh and we have seen his glory)
The service may conclude with an suitable Collect and the seasonal blessing for Christmas.
A sermon is not a traditional part of this service.