Service for New Year's Eve From the Episcopal Book of Occasional Services - 1994
During the evening of December 31, which is the eve of the Feast of the Holy Name and also the eve of the civil New Year, the following service may be used.
The rite begins with the Service of Light, page 109 of the Book of Common Prayer, using the Collect for the First Sunday after Christmas as the Prayer for Light.
After the Phos hilaron, two or more of the following Lessons are read, each followed by a Psalm, Canticle, or hymn, and a Prayer. The last reading is always from the New Testament.
Oh, God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose years never fail and whose mercies are new each returning day: let the radiance of your Spirit renew our lives, warming our hearts and giving light to our minds, that we may pass into the new year in joyful obedience and firm faith; through him who is the beginning and the end, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Hebrew Year Exodus 23:9-16, 20-21
You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the wild animals may eat. You shall do the same with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard.
For six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest, so that your ox and your donkey may have relief, and your home-born slave and the resident alien may be refreshed. Be attentive to all that I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.
Three times in the year you shall hold a festival for me. You shall observe the festival of unleavened bread; as I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt.
No one shall appear before me empty-handed.
You shall observe the festival of harvest, of the first fruits of your labour, of what you sow in the field. You shall observe the festival of ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labour.
I am going to send an angel in front of you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Be attentive to him and listen to his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my name is in him.
Psalm 111 Confitebor tibi
O praise the Lord.
I will praise the Lord with my whole heart :
in the company of the upright and among the congregation.
The works of the Lord are great :
and studied by all who take delight in them.
His deeds are majestic and glorious :
and his righteousness stands for ever.
His marvellous acts have won him a name to be remembered :
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He gives food to those that fear him :
he remembers his covenant for ever.
He showed his people the power of his acts :
in giving them the heritage of the heathen.
The works of his hands are faithful and just :
and all his commandments are sure;
They stand firm for ever and ever :
they are done in faithfulness and in truth.
He sent redemption to his people,
he ordained his covenant for ever :
holy is his name and worthy to be feared.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and of good understanding are those that keep his commandments :
his praise shall endure for ever.
Let us pray. (Silence)
O God, our Creator, you have divided our life into days and seasons, and called us to acknowledge your providence year after year: Accept your people who come to offer their praises, and, in your mercy, receive their prayers; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Promised Land Deuteronomy 11:8-12,26-28
Keep, then, this entire commandment that I am commanding you today, so that you may have strength to go in and occupy the land that you are crossing over to occupy, and so that you may live long in the land that the Lord swore to your ancestors to give to them and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey. For the land that you are about to enter to occupy is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sow your seed and irrigate by foot like a vegetable garden. But the land that you are crossing over to occupy is a land of hills and valleys, watered by rain from the sky, a land that the Lord your God looks after. The eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.
See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn from the way that I am commanding you today, to follow other gods that you have not known.
Psalm 36:5-10 Dixit injustus
Your unfailing kindness, O Lord, is in the heavens :
and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the strong mountains :
and your justice as the great deep;
you, O Lord, save both man and beast.
How precious, O God, is your enduring kindness :
the children of men shall take refuge
under the shadow of your wings.
They shall be satisfied with the good things of your house :
and you will give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the well of life :
and in your light shall we see light.
O continue your merciful kindness toward those who know you :
and your righteous dealing to those that are true of heart.
Let us pray. (Silence)
Almighty God, the source of all life, giver of all blessing, and savior of all who turn to you: Have mercy upon this nation; deliver us from falsehood, malice, and disobedience; turn our feet into your paths; and grant that we may serve you in peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A Season for all Things Ecclesiastes 3:1-15
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
What gain have the workers from their toil? I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover, he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God's gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil. I know that whatever God does endures for ever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already is; and God seeks out what has gone by.
Psalm 90 Domine, refugium
Lord, you have been our refuge :
from one generation to another.
Before the mountains were born
or the earth and the world were brought to be :
from eternity to eternity you are God.
You turn man back into dust :
saying 'Return to dust, you sons of Adam.'
For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday passing :
or like one watch of the night.
You cut them short like a dream :
like the fresh grass of the morning;
In the morning it is green and flourishes :
at evening it is withered and dried up.
And we are consumed by your anger :
because of your indignation we cease to be.
You have brought our iniquities before you :
and our secret sins to the light of your countenance.
Our days decline beneath your wrath :
and our years pass away like a sigh.
The days of our life are three score years and ten,
or if we have strength, four score :
the pride of our labours is but toil and sorrow,
for it passes quickly away and we are gone.
Who can know the power of your wrath :
who can know your indignation like those that fear you?
Teach us so to number our days :
that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
Relent, O Lord; how long will you be angry? :
take pity on your servants.
O satisfy us early with your mercy :
that all our days we may rejoice and sing.
Give us joy for all the days you have afflicted us :
for the years we have suffered adversity.
Show your servants your work :
and let their children see your glory.
May the gracious favour of the Lord our God be upon us :
prosper the work of our hands,
O prosper the work of our hands!
Let us pray. (Silence)
In your wisdom, O Lord our God, you have made all things, and have allotted to each of us the days of our life: Grant that we may live in your presence, be guided by your Holy Spirit, and offer all our works to your honor and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Remember your Creator Ecclesiastes 12:1-8
Remember your creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come, and the years draw near when you will say, 'I have no pleasure in them'; before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return with the rain; on the day when the guards of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the women who grind cease working because they are few, and those who look through the windows see dimly; when the doors on the street are shut, and the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low; when one is afraid of heights, and terrors are in the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along and desire fails; because all must go to their eternal home, and the mourners will go about the streets; before the silver cord is snapped, and the golden bowl is broken, and the pitcher is broken at the fountain, and the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the breath returns to God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher; all is vanity.
Psalm 130 De profundis
Out of the depths have I called to you, O Lord :
Lord, hear my voice;
O let your ears consider well :
the voice of my supplication.
If you, Lord, should note what we do wrong :
who then, O Lord, could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you :
so that you shall be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits for him :
and in his word is my hope.
My soul looks for the Lord :
more than watchmen for the morning,
more, I say, than watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, trust in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy :
and with him is ample redemption.
He will redeem Israel :
from the multitude of his sins.
Let us pray. (Silence)
Immortal Lord God, you inhabit eternity, and have brought us, your unworthy servants to the close of another year: Pardon, we entreat you, out transgressions of the past, and graciously abide with us all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Marking the Times, and Winter Ecclesiasticus 43:1-22
The pride of the higher realms is the clear vault of the sky,
as glorious to behold as the sight of the heavens.
The sun, when it appears, proclaims as it rises
what a marvellous instrument it is, the work of the Most High.
At noon it parches the land,
and who can withstand its burning heat?
A man tending a furnace works in burning heat,
but three times as hot is the sun scorching the mountains;
it breathes out fiery vapours,
and its bright rays blind the eyes.
Great is the Lord who made it;
at his orders it hurries on its course.
It is the moon that marks the changing seasons,
governing the times, their everlasting sign.
From the moon comes the sign for festal days,
a light that wanes when it completes its course.
The new moon, as its name suggests, renews itself;
how marvellous it is in this change,
a beacon to the hosts on high,
shining in the vault of the heavens!
The glory of the stars is the beauty of heaven,
a glittering array in the heights of the Lord.
On the orders of the Holy One they stand in their appointed places;
they never relax in their watches.
Look at the rainbow, and praise him who made it;
it is exceedingly beautiful in its brightness.
It encircles the sky with its glorious arc;
the hands of the Most High have stretched it out.
By his command he sends the driving snow
and speeds the lightnings of his judgement.
Therefore the storehouses are opened,
and the clouds fly out like birds.
In his majesty he gives the clouds their strength,
and the hailstones are broken in pieces.
The voice of his thunder rebukes the earth;
when he appears, the mountains shake.
At his will the south wind blows;
so do the storm from the north and the whirlwind.
He scatters the snow like birds flying down,
and its descent is like locusts alighting.
The eye is dazzled by the beauty of its whiteness,
and the mind is amazed as it falls.
He pours frost over the earth like salt,
and icicles form like pointed thorns.
The cold north wind blows,
and ice freezes on the water;
it settles on every pool of water,
and the water puts it on like a breastplate.
He consumes the mountains and burns up the wilderness,
and withers the tender grass like fire.
A mist quickly heals all things;
the falling dew gives refreshment from the heat.
Psalm 19 Caeli enarrant
The heavens declare the glory of God :
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork;
One day tells it to another :
and night to night communicates knowledge.
There is no speech or language :
nor are their voices heard;
Yet their sound has gone out through all the world :
and their words to the ends of the earth.
There he has pitched a tent for the sun :
which comes out as a bridegroom from his chamber,
and rejoices like a strong man to run his course.
Its rising is at one end of the heavens,
and its circuit to their farthest bound :
and nothing is hidden from its heat.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul :
the command of the Lord is true, and makes wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, and rejoice the heart :
the commandment of the Lord is pure, and gives light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean, and endures for ever :
the judgements of the Lord are unchanging, and righteous every one.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold :
sweeter also than honey, than the honey that drips from the comb.
Moreover, by them is your servant taught :
and in keeping them there is great reward.
Who can know his own unwitting sins? :
O cleanse me from my secret faults.
Keep your servant also from presumptuous sins,
lest they get the mastery over me :
so I shall be clean, and innocent of great offence.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight :
O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.
Let us pray. (Silence)
Almighty Father, you give the sun for light by day, and the moon and the stars by night: Graciously receive us, this night and always, into your favor and protection, defending us from all harm and governing us with your Holy Spirit, that every shadow of ignorance, every failure of faith or weakness of heart, every evil or wrong desire may be removed far from us; so that we, being justified in our Lord Jesus Christ, may be sanctified by your Spirit and glorified by your infinite mercies in the day of the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Acceptable Time 2 Corinthians 5:17-6:2
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says,
'At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
and on a day of salvation I have helped you.'
See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!
Psalm 63 Deus, Deus meus
O God, you are my God :
eagerly will I seek you.
My soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs for you :
as a dry and thirsty land where no water is.
So it was when I beheld you in the sanctuary :
and saw your power and your glory.
For your unchanging goodness is better than life :
therefore my lips shall praise you.
And so I will bless you as long as I live :
and in your name will I lift my hands on high.
My longing shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness :
my mouth shall praise you with exultant lips.
When I remember you upon my bed :
when I meditate upon you in the night watches,
How you have been my helper :
then I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
Let us pray. (Silence)
Most gracious and merciful God, you have reconciled us to yourself through Jesus Christ your Son, and called us to new life in him: Grant that we, who begin this year in his Name, may complete it to his honor and glory; who lives and reigns now and for ever. Amen.
While it is Called Today Hebrews 3:1-15
Therefore, brothers and sisters, holy partners in a heavenly calling, consider that Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses also 'was faithful in all God's house.' Yet Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder of a house has more honour than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that would be spoken later. Christ, however, was faithful over God's house as a son, and we are his house if we hold firm the confidence and the pride that belong to hope.
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
'Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
as on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your ancestors put me to the test,
though they had seen my works for forty years.
Therefore I was angry with that generation,
and I said, They always go astray in their hearts,
and they have not known my ways.
As in my anger I swore,
They will not enter my rest. '
Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today', so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partners of Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end. As it is said,
'Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.'
Psalm 95 Venite, exultemus
O come, let us sing out to the Lord :
let us shout in triumph to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his face with thanksgiving :
and cry out to him joyfully in psalms.
For the Lord is a great God :
and a great king above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth :
and the peaks of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his and he made it :
his hands moulded dry land.
Come, let us worship and bow down :
and kneel before the Lord our maker.
For he is the Lord our God :
we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.
Today if only you would hear his voice
'Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah :
as on that day at Massah in the wilderness;
'When your fathers tested me :
put me to proof, though they had seen my works.
'Forty years long I loathed that generation and said :
It is a people who err in their hearts,
for they do not know my ways;
'Of whom I swore in my wrath :
They shall not enter my rest.'
Let us pray. (Silence)
O God, through your Son you have taught us to be watchful, and to await the sudden day of judgment: Strengthen us against Satan and his forces of wickedness, the evil powers of this world, and the sinful desires within us, and grant that, having served you all the days of our life, we may finally come to the dwelling place your Son has prepared for us; who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
New Heavens and New Earth Revelation 21:1-14, 22-24
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away. And the one who was seated on the throne said, See, I am making all things new. Also he said, Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true. Then he said to me, It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. It has a great, high wall with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites; on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.
The Song of the Redeemed -
Magna et mirabilia
O ruler of the universe, Lord God,
great deeds are they that you have done, *
surpassing human understanding.
Your ways are ways of righteousness and truth, *
O King of all the ages.
Who can fail to do you homage, Lord,
and sing the praises of your Name? *
for you only are the Holy One.
All nations will draw near and fall down before you, *
because your just and holy works have been revealed.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
Let us pray. (Silence)
Almighty and merciful God, through your well beloved Son Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of Lords, you have willed to make all things new: Grant that we may be renewed by your Holy Spirit, and may come at last to that heavenly country where your people hunger and thirst no more, and the tears are wiped away from every eye; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A homily, sermon or instruction may follow the Readings.
An act of self-dedication may follow.
The service may conclude in one of the following ways: