St Catherine’s ‘Lessons and Carols’

‘Lessons and Carols’

The origins of the service of Lessons and Carols are attributed to Truro Cathedral in Cornwall, England. Up to the late 19th century, the singing of Christmas carols was normally performed by singers visiting people’s houses, and carols — generally considered to be secular in content — had been excluded from Christian worship.
In the Victorian era, the rising popularity of hymnody encouraged church musicians to introduce carols into worship. An 1875 book of carols, Carols for Use in Church During Christmas and Epiphany by Richard Chope and  Sabine Baring-Gould was an influential publication. At around this time, the composer and organist John Stainer was compiling a collection, Christmas Carols New and Old, and during Christmas 1878 he introduced carols into the service of  Choral Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Other cathedrals also began to adopt carols at Christmastide. And so the Service of ‘Lessons and Carols’ was born.

The service began to gain in popularity across the Church of England and across the world-wide Anglican Communion. The original liturgy has since been adapted and used by other churches all over the world. However, Lessons and Carols, widespread though they have become, still most often occur in Anglican churches.

As in years past we are collection donations for those less fortunate than ourselves – more details of this year’s charities and how to give can be found here.

The Opening

The Bidding Prayer

My brothers and sisters: in the name of Christ you are welcome. We come together (even here Online) 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.

a moment of stillness is kept

We pray for the world Christ came to save:
-for his world, that all its people may recognise their responsibility for its future and may be inspired by the message of Christmas to work together for justice and freedom and peace
-for all in special need, the sick and the dying, the anxious and the fearful, the bereaved and the despairing, that the peace and light of the Christ-child may bring hope and healing to all who sit in darkness.

The Bible Readings

The Pre-history

The Prophecies

The Birth Narratives

The Prologue

The Carols, Anthems and Hymns

Carol Sheet

Notes on O little town of Bethlehem can be found on our virtual Choir page

The Poems

The Prayers

Let us pray to Jesus our Saviour:

Christ, born in a stable, give courage to all who are homeless.
Christ, for whom the angels sang, give the song of the kingdom to all who weep.
Christ, worshipped by shepherds, give peace on earth to all who are oppressed.
Christ, before who wise men knelt, give humility and wisdom to all who govern.
Christ, whose radiance filled a lowly manger, give the glory of your resurrection to all who rest in you.
Jesus you know us and love us, you share our lives and hear our prayer.
Glory to you. Amen.

The Closing

When the song of the angels is stilled
When the star in the sky is gone
When the kings and princes are home
When the shepherds are back with the flock
The work of Christmas begins:

to find the lost
to heal the broken
to feed the hungry
to release the prisoner
to rebuild nations
to bring peace among people
to make music in the heart.

The Peace:

Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given,
and his name shall be called the Prince of Peace.
So may his peace be ours this season of Christmas. Amen.

The Blessing:

Hallelujah Chorus – Handel

(somewhere in here is our very own Anja)

“Retiring Collection”

As in years past we are collection donations for those less fortunate than ourselves – more details of this year’s charities and how to give can be found here.

Thank you to the key contributors: our musicians, readers and webteam.
Thank you to all of you who worship with us and in your turn invite others to do so too.
But the final word remains:-

Let us bless the Lord: Thanks be to God.