Christmas Eve 2020

Join us “live” from St. Mary’s  on Christmas Eve at 7:00 p.m. for Christmas Eve Vigil and Service of Lesson and Carol  with the Blessing of the Creche. Our goal on this Holy Night of the celebration of our Savior’s Birth is to hold a “virtual gathering” and to “liturgize” together, that is to en-act the Word of God in Scripture, song, and prayer. The service will be conducted from the sanctuary at St. Mary’s, and will include readings by parishioners from their homes, musical accompaniment on the organ for the singing of the carols at home. Please join us at the following link:

Passcode, if needed, is 801954.

Please be on time, and ready yourself by hitting the “mute” button on your computer, turning off the lights in your home, and ready to light candles!


Our service this evening consists of three elements. The first element is “The Service of Light” from the Church’s daily liturgy of Evening Prayer. The opening greeting, “Light and Peace in Jesus Christ” with which we light our tapers recalls the first words spoken by God in the creation account from the Book of Genesis, “Let there be light.” St. John, picks up on this theme in the prologue to His Gospel, when he writes, concerning the Word and Son of God who is Jesus Christ, “ The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not over come it ” and “The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. “ (John 1. 5,9) . The light that we pass from candle to candle tonight symbolizes for us the inner spiritual illumination we receive through the Gospel.  Once all the candles are lit we join together in singing the “Phos Hilaron,”  a hymn of praise to Christ who is our Light, and the oldest recorded Christian hymn  outside the New Testament.

The second element of our service consists of the Advent hymn, “O come, O Come Emmanuel.”   The text of this hymn dates back to the 9th century, and comprises a series of titles of Jesus Christ taken from Old Testament Scriptures, and expresses the deep yearning, hope, and expectation  for God’s promised Messiah. Our singing of this hymn tonight establishes Christmas as a celebration of God’s faithfulness in the fulfillment of the promises to His people, Israel. The hymn will be sung in procession to a medieval plainchant  tune, and will make station at various strategic places in the church: the lectern, the pulpit, the north doors, the font, the chancel, and the altar, thereby  “illuminating” for us the character of our encounter with Jesus Christ mediated by each of these places.

In this way we will have prepared ourselves for our service of Lessons and Carols  where we will  “travel in spirit with Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem to acclaim with the multitude of the heavenly host the coming of the Prince of Peace.”  The lessons for tonight will comprise of a prophecy from Isaiah, the Christmas story from St. Luke, the story of the arrival of the wise-men from St. Matthew , and the prologue to St. John’s Gospel, which takes us back to where we began our service: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”. (John 1.4,5)

With this service we enter into the Church’s 12 day celebration of Christmas. And, as we follow the example of Mary, who “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” ( Luke 2.19), may “the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15.13) . 


Light and peace in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Thanks be to God.

Candles are lit.

Phos Hilaron 

Hail, gladdening Light, of his pure glory poured
Who is the immortal Father, heavenly, blest,
Holiest of holies, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Now we are come to the sun’s hour of rest,
The lights of evening round us shine,
We hymn the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Divine.

Worthiest art thou at all times to be sung
with undefilèd tongue,
Son of our God, giver of life, alone:
therefore in all the world thy glories, Lord, they own.


Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise. 

God, ruler of the universe, creator of light and darkness. In this holy season, when the sun’s light is swallowed up by the growing darkness of the night, you renew your promise to reveal among us the splendour of your glory, enfleshed and visible to us in Jesus Christ your Son. Through the prophets you teach us to hope for his reign of peace. Through the outpouring of his Spirit, you open our blindness to the glory of his presence. Strengthen us in our weakness. Support us in our stumbling efforts to do your will and free our tongues to sing your praise. For to you all honour and blessing are due, now and for ever. Amen. 

O Lord, I call to you; come to me quickly;
Hear my voice when I cry to you. 

Let my prayer be set forth in your sight as incense,
The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.                    

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be world without end. Amen. 


O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Antiphon: O Wisdom (lectern)

O wisdom, which camest out of the mouth of the Most High, and reachest from one end to another, mightily, and sweetly ordering all things: 

Come and teach us the way of prudence.

O come, thou Wisdom from on high, 
who orders all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go. Refrain

Antiphon: O Adonai (pulpit)

O Adonai, and leader of the house of Israel, who appearst in the bush to Moses in a flame of fire, and gavest him the law in Sinai, 
Come and deliver us with an outstretched arm.

O come, thou rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell thy people save;
And give them victory o’er the grave. Refrain

Antiphon: O Key of David  (north doors)

O Key of David and sceptre of the house of Israel, that openest and none can shut, and shuttest and no man openeth:
Come and bring the prisoner out of the prison house, and him that sitteth in darkness.

O come, thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heavenly home;
make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery. Refrain

Antiphon: O Morning Star  (font)

O Day Spring, Brightness of Light everlasting, and  sun of righteousness;
Come and enlighten him that sitteth in darkness, and the shadow of death.

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death’s dark shadows put to flight. Refrain

Antiphon: O King of the Nations  (chancel steps)

O King of the nations and their Desire; the Cornerstone, who makest both one:
Come and save mankind, whom thou formedst of clay

O come, Desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid thou our sad divisions cease,
and be thyself our King of Peace. Refrain

Antiphon: O Emmanuel  (altar)

O Emmanuel our King and law-giver, the desire of all nations and their Salvation:
Come and save us,O Lord our God.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear. Refrain

GRACE AND PEACE TO YOU from God our Father and from Jesus Christ our Lord. My brothers and sisters: We have come together as Christmas draws near to prepare for our celebration of the birth of God’s beloved Son. Through the days of Advent we have followed the light of Christ, and now we travel in spirit with Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem to acclaim with the multitude of the heavenly host the coming of the Prince of Peace. Through Scripture and silence, prayer and song, let us hear again the wonderful story of our redemption, and, hearing, let us rejoice and respond with lively faith.

Let us pray.

Almighty God, you make us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of your  Son Jesus Christ: grant that, as we joyfully receive him as our redeemer, we may with  sure confidence behold him when he shall come  to be our judge; who is alive and  reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

OPENING HYMN: Once in Royal David’s City

Once in Royal David’s city
Stood a lowly cattle shed.
Where a mother laid her baby
In a manger for His bed.
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little child.

He came down to earth from Heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all.
And his shelter was a stable,
And his cradle was a stall.
With the poor and mean and lowly,
Lived on earth our Saviour Holy.

And our eyes at last shall see Him
Through His own redeeming love,
For that child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in Heaven above;
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone.

Not in that poor, lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him; but in Heaven,
Set at God’s right hand on high,
When, like stars, His children crowned
All in white, shall wait around.


FIRST LESSON: Isaiah 9.2-7 (Reader: Emilia S.)

The Prophecy of the Messiah’s Birth

MUSICAL OFFERING: Variations on “In Dulci Jubilo” by Denis Bédard 


Holy Jesus, to deliver us from the power of darkness you humbled yourself to be born among us  and were laid in a manger. Let the light of your love always shine in our hearts, and bring us at last to the joyful vision of your beauty, for you are now alive and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.  Amen.

SECOND LESSON: Luke 1.26-38 (Reader: Amelie L)

The Annunciation to Mary

MUSICAL OFFERING: Angelus ad Virginem 14th century Irish Carol


Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy spirit, one God , now and for ever. Amen.

THIRD LESSON: Luke 2.1-7 (Reader: Lucy D)

The Birth of Jesus

MUSICAL OFFERING: O Christmas Tree – Lucy D

HYMN: O Little Town of Bethlehem

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in the dark street shineth 
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary,
And fathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God, the King,

And peace to men on earth.

How silently, how silently,
The wondrous Gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell:
Oh, come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Immanuel!


A hallowed day has dawned upon us. Come and worship the Lord:
for a great light has shone on the earth.

Hear the words of the book of Wisdom: When peaceful silence lay over all and night was in the midst of her swift course, from your royal throne, O God, down from the heavens, leapt your almighty Word.

Thanks be to God.

CAROL AT THE CRIB: Away in a Manger – Music: The Der family.

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the bright  sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay. 

The cattle are lowing, the Baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes;
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky  
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh. 

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And fit us for Heaven to live with Thee there.

Let us pray that God our Father will bless this crib,  and that all who worship his Son,  born of the Virgin Mary,  may come to share His life in glory.

God our Father, on this night your Son Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary  for us and for our salvation;  bless this crib, which we have prepared to celebrate that holy birth;  may all who see it be strengthened in faith and receive the fullness of life he came to bring;  who lives and reigns for ever.  Amen.

HYMN: Infant Holy, Infant Lowly – Music: The Der family.

Infant holy, Infant lowly,
For His bed a cattle  stall.
Oxen lowing little knowing
Christ the Babe is Lord of All.
Swift are winging angels singing,
Nowells ringing, tidings bringing:
Christ  the Babe is Lord of all!

Christ  the Babe is Lord of all!

Flocks were sleeping, shepherds keeping
Vigil till the morning new
Saw the glory, heard the story

Tidings of a gospel true
Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow
Praises voicing greet tomorrow:
Christ  the Babe is born for you!

Christ  the Babe is born for you!

FOURTH LESSON: Luke 2.8-16 – Reader:   Anya M

The Shepherds Go To The Manger

HYMN: Silent Night

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
‘Round yon virgin Mother and Child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight!
Glories stream from heaven afar;
Heavenly hosts sing Al-le-lu-ia!
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth.


Eternal God, this holy night is radiant with the brilliance of your one true light. As we have known the revelation of that light on earth, bring us to see the splendour of your heavenly glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

FIFTH LESSON: Matthew 2. 1-11 – Reader:  David K

The Wise Men are led by a Star to Jesus

As with gladness, men of old
Did the guiding star behold;
As with joy they hailed its light,
Leading onward, beaming bright;
So, most gracious Lord, may we
Evermore be led to Thee. 

As with joyful steps they sped
To that lowly manger-bed; 
There to bend the knee before
Him Whom heaven and earth adore;
So may we with willing feet
Ever seek thy mercy-seat.

As they offered gifts most rare 
At that manger rude and bare;
So may we, with holy joy,
Pure and free from sin’s alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring, 
Christ! to Thee our heavenly King.

Holy Jesus, every day
Keep us in the narrow way; 
And, when earthly things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds Thy Glory hide.


Eternal God, who by a star led wisemen to the worship of your Son, guide by your light the nations of the earth, that the whole world may know your glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
and we have seen his glory. 

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Sixth Reading: John 1.1-18 – Reader:  Canon Claude Schroeder

St. John tells of the Incarnation

CAROL: OF the Father’s Love Begotten

Of the Father’s love begotten
ere the worlds began to be, 
he is Alpha and Omega — 
he the source, the ending he, 
of the things that are, that have been, 
and that future years shall see 
evermore and evermore.

O that birth forever blessed, 
when a virgin, full of grace, 
by the Holy Ghost conceiving, 
bore the Savior of our race; 
and the babe, the world’s Redeemer, 
first revealed his sacred face,
evermore and evermore.

This is he whom seers in old time 
chanted of with one accord, 
whom the voices of the prophets 
promised in their faithful word; 
now he shines, the long-expected; 
let creation praise its Lord
evermore and evermore.

O ye heights of heaven adore him; 
angel hosts, his praises sing: 
All dominions, bow before him 
and extol our God and King; 
let no tongue on earth be silent, 
every voice in concert ring
evermore and evermore.

Christ, to thee, with God the Father 
and O Holy Ghost to thee, 
hymn and chant and high thanksgiving 
and unwearied praises be,
honour, glory, and dominion 
and eternal victory
evermore and evermore.


Let us pray to Jesus our Saviour. Christ, born in a stable, give courage to all who are homeless.

Jesus, Saviour, hear our prayer.

Christ, for whom the angels sang, give the song of the kingdom to all who weep.

Jesus, Saviour, hear our prayer.

Christ, worshipped by the shepherds, give peace on earth to all who are oppressed.

Jesus, Saviour,hear our prayer.

Christ, before whom the wise men knelt, give humility and wisdom to all who govern.

Jesus, Saviour, hear our prayer.

Christ, whose radiance filled a lowly manger, give the glory of your resurrection to all who rest in you.

Jesus, Saviour, hear our prayer.

Jesus, Saviour, child of Mary, you know us and love us,
you share our lives and hear our prayer.                                               
Glory to you for ever. Amen.



May the Father, who has loved the eternal Son from before the foundation of the world, shed that love upon you his children.  Amen.

May Christ, who by his incarnation gathered into one things earthly and heavenly, fill you with joy and peace. Amen.

May the Holy Spirit, by whose overshadowing Mary became the Godbearer, give you grace to carry the good news of Christ.  Amen.

And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always.  Amen! Amen! Amen!

CAROL: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Hark! the herald angels sing, 
“Glory to the new born King, 
peace on earth, and mercy mild, 
God and sinners reconciled!” 
Joyful, all ye nations rise, 
join the triumph of the skies; 
with th’ angelic host proclaim, 
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!” 
Hark! the herald angels sing, 
“Glory to the new born King!” 

Christ, by highest heaven adored; 
Christ, the everlasting Lord; 
late in time behold him come, 
offspring of a virgin’s womb. 
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; 
hail th’ incarnate Deity, 
pleased with us in flesh to dwell, 
Jesus, our Emmanuel. 

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace! 
Hail the Sun of Righteousness! 
Light and life to all he brings, 
risen with healing in his wings. 
Mild he lays his glory by, 
born that we no more may die, 
born to raise us from the earth, 
born to give us second birth.