Carols around the Crib


He shall save His people from their sins


From the west the sound of carolling voices


Choir:              One winter's night when snow lay deep,

                        Shepherds were tending lambs and sheep.


                                 And sing i-o, sing i-o,

                         O,O,O  O,O,O,

                                Benedicamus Domino.


When midnight brought the wind and cold,

Angels from God came to the fold. Chorus.


They brought the news of peace and joy,

Which may be found in one small boy. Chorus.


Shepherds and angels joined to sing,

Carols of praise unto their King. Chorus.


Words:   Douglas Coombes

Music:    Trad. German. Arr. GJ.


The Bidding


We meet to celebrate the coming of Jesus into the family at Bethlehem:


To rejoice with Mary His mother, and with Joseph,

at His birth.


To give thanks to God

for His life: His teaching, His dying for all.


To sing of His love

for the world, for us.


We kneel to adore the Saviour of the world.


We are wise to dwell but briefly on the furnishing of His coming, then to ponder deeply why He came.


That there grow from adoration of the infant in a manger,

a commitment to the Son of God as Lord and Saviour.


And thereafter to extend a joy within our lives,

and peace throughout the world.


We affirm: God with us.


To discern in His humanity a mirror of God's vulnerability.


To discover that God is not above to observe,

but beside to share.


To be assured that in destructive and tangled and hopeless things,

here may God work:

to create; to redeem; to makes all things new.


P:  The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.

R:  And we beheld His Glory.


Processional Carol:                   37        'While shepherds watched their flocks

                                                             by night'


Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 49. 7-13


Carol:                                      40        'O little town of Bethlehem'


New Testament Lesson:            Phil. 2. 1-11


Carol:                                       527      'Where is this stupendous stranger?'


During which the choir form a station about the crib


A Christmas Litany in Words and in Music


Please be seated


We gather round the Crib -


Rough container for food of beasts.

Rest from aching arms of tired Mother.

We, who would come - and look, and see, and see.


He shall save his people from their sins


Choir:       Remember, O thou man,

O thou man, O thou man,

Remember, O thou man,

Thy time is spent:

Remember, O thou man,

How thou cam'st to me then,

And I did what I can,

Therefore repent.


Reading:           Genesis 3: 1-13


The serpent was the craftiest of all the creatures the Lord God had made. So the serpent came to the woman.

'Really?' he asked. None of the fruit in the garden? God says you musn't eat any of it?'

'Of course we may eat it,' the woman told him. 'It's only the fruit from the tree at the centre of the garden that we are not to eat. God says you musn't eat it or even touch it, or we will die.'

'That's a lie!' the serpent hissed. 'You'll not die. God knows very well that the instant you eat it you will become like him, for your eyes will be opened - you will be able to distinguish good from evil!'

The woman was convinced. How lovely and fresh looking it was. And it would make her so wise! So she ate some of the fruit and gave it to her husband, and he ate it too.

And as they ate it, suddenly they became aware of their nakedness, and were embarrassed. So they strung fig leaves together to cover themselves around the hips.

That evening they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden; and they hid themselves among the trees.

The Lord God called to Adam, 'Why are you hiding?' And Adam replied 'I heard you coming and didn't want you to see me naked. So I hid.'

'Who told you you were naked?' the Lord God asked. 'Have you eaten fruit from the tree I warned you about?'

'Yes', Adam admitted, 'but it was the woman you gave me who brought me some, and I ate it.'

Then the Lord God asked the woman, 'How could you do such a thing?'

'The serpent tricked me,' she replied.


Spoken:          What is the Fall? The Fall is simply and solely Disobedience - doing what you have been told not to do: and it results from Pride - from being too big for your boots, forgetting your place, thinking that you are God.


                        C. S. Lewis: A Preface to Paradise Lost


Choir:               Remember God's goodness,

O thou man, O thou man,

Remember God's goodness

And promise made:

Remember God's goodness,

How his only Son he sent,

Our sins for to redress:

Be not afraid.


Words: Melismata, 1611  Music: Thomas Ravenscroft, 1611



Born of the Virgin Mary


Choir:               I sing of a maiden that is makeless;

King of all kings to her son she ches.


He came all so still where his mother was,

As dew in April that falleth on the grass.


He came all so still to his mother's bower,

As dew in April that falleth on the flower.


He came all so still where his mother lay,

As dew in April that falleth on the spray.


Mother and maiden was never none but she:

Well may such a lady God's mother be.


Words: Traditional            Music: Patrick Hadley


Spoken:            At the Manger Mary Sings


O shut your bright eyes that mine must endanger

With their watchfulness; protected by its shade

Escape from my care: what can you discover

From my tender look but how to be afraid?

Love can but confirm the more it would deny.

Close your bright eyes.


W H Auden  (1907 - 1973)


Choir:               O men from the fields!

Come gently within.

Tread softly, softly,

O men coming in!

Mavoureen is going

From me and from you,

Where Mary will fold him

With mantle of blue!


From reek of the smoke,

And cold of the floor,

And peering of things

Across the half-door.

O men from the fields!

Soft, softly come through -

Mary puts round him

Her mantle of blue.


Words: Padraic Colum       Music: Arnold Cooke


Spoken:            Sleep. What have you learned from the womb that bore you

But an anxiety your father cannot feel?

Sleep. What will the flesh that I gave do for you,

Or my mother love, but tempt you from his will?

Why was I chosen to teach his Son to weep?

Little One, sleep.


W H Auden  (1907 - 1973)


Choir:               Sleep, Holy Babe! Upon Thy mother's breast;

Great Lord of earth, and sea, and sky,

How sweet it is to see Thee lie

In such a place of rest.


Sleep, holy Babe! Thine angels watch around,

All bending low with folded wings,

Before the Incarnate King of kings,

In reverent awe profound.


Sleep, Holy Babe! While I with Mary gaze

In joy upon that Face awhile,

Upon the loving infant smile

Which there divinely plays.


Sleep, Holy Babe! Ah! Take Thy brief repose;

Too quickly will Thy slumbers break,

And Thou to lengthened pains awake,

That Death alone shall close.


Words: E Caswell                Music:  J B Dykes


Spoken:            Dream. In human dreams earth ascends to heaven

Where no one need pray nor ever feel alone.

In your first few hours of life here, O have you

Chosen already what death must be your own?

How soon will you start on the Sorrowful Way?

Dream while you may.


W H Auden  (1907 - 1973)


Carol (seated): 


Still the night, holy the night,

All is dark, save the light

Shining where the mother mild

Watches o'er the holy child.

Sleep in heavenly peace.

Sleep in heavenly peace.


Still the night, holy the night,

Shepherds first saw the sight,

Heard resounding clear and long

Far and near the angel song:

Christ our Saviour is here!

Christ our Saviour is here!


Still the night, holy the night,

Son of God, Oh how bright

Shines the love in thy holy face,

Shines the light of redemption and grace

Saviour, since Thou art born!

Saviour, since Thou art born!


Words:  Joseph Mohr

Tr. David Willcocks and Stopford Augustus Brooke

                                Music:  Franz Gruber arr. H. Carol/GJ


The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us


Choir:               Love came down at Christmas,

Love all lovely, Love Divine;

Love was born at Christmas,

Star and angel gave the sign.


Worship we the Godhead,

Love Incarnate, Love Divine;

Worship we our Jesus:

But wherewith for sacred sign?


Love shall be our token,

Love be yours and love be mine,

Love to God and all men,

Love for plea and gift and sign.


Words:  Christina Rosetti                  Music:  Sidney Hann


Spoken:            Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,

Guilty of dust and sin.

But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack

From my first entrance in,

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,

If I lacked anything.


'A guest', I answered, 'worthy to be here.'

Love said, 'You shall be he.'

'I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah. My dear,

I cannot look on thee.'

Love took my hands, and smiling did reply,

'Who made the eyes but I?'


'Truth, Lord, but I have marred them; let me shame

Go where it doth deserve.'

'And know you not', says Love, 'who bore the blame?'

'My dear, then I will serve.'

'You must sit down', says Love, 'and taste my meat.'

So I did sit and eat.


George Herbert (1593 - 1633)


Choir:               O little one sweet, O little one mild,

Thy Father's purpose thou hast fulfilled;

Thou cam'st from heav'n to mortal ken,

Equal to be with us poor men,

O little one sweet, O little one mild.


O little one sweet, O little one mild,

In thee Love's beauties are all distilled;

Then light in us thy love's bright flame

That we may give thee back the same,

O little one sweet, O little one mild.


O little one sweet, O little one mild,

Help us to do as thou hast willed.

Lo, all we have belongs to thee!

Ah, keep us in our fealty!

O little one sweet, O little one mild.


Words:  German. S . Scheidt.  tr. Percy Dearmer

Music:   German trad. Harm. J S Bach


        Spoken:                         Thou art the Way.

Hadst thou been nothing but the goal,

I cannot say

If thou hadst ever met my soul.


I cannot see -

I, child of process - if there lies

An end for me,

Full of repose, full of replies.


I'll not reproach

The road that winds, my feet that err.

Access, approach

Art thou, Time, Way, and Wayfarer.


Alice Meynell (1847 - 1922)


Carol (seated):              'Born in the night' (Mary's Child)                      


If this song is new to you, listen to the choir sing the first verse and join in from the second.


Born in the night,

Mary's child,

A long way from your home:

Coming in need,

Mary's child,

Born in a borrowed room.


Clear shining light,

Mary's child,

Your face lights up our way;

Light of the world,

Mary's child,

Dawn on our darkened day.


Truth of our life,

Mary's child,

You tell us God is good;

Prove it is true,

Mary's child,

Go to your cross of wood.


Hope of the world,

Mary's child,

You're coming soon to reign;

King of the earth,

Mary's child,

Walk in our streets again.


Words and Music:  Geoffrey Ainger





Prayers of Intercession


Christ, who was born in a stable,

Give courage to all who are homeless.

In your mercy

Hear our prayer.


Christ, who fled into Egypt,

Give comfort to all refugees.

In your mercy

Hear our prayer.


Christ, who fasted in the desert,

Give relief to all who are starving.

In your mercy

Hear our prayer.


Christ, who hung in agony on the cross,

Give strength to all who suffer.

In your mercy

Hear our prayer.


Christ, who died to save us,

Give us your forgiveness.

In your mercy

Hear our prayer.


Save us to-day, and use us in your loving purpose,

To your glory.  Amen.



Carol:               42        'In the bleak midwinter'


Remain standing




Almighty God,

who wonderfully created us in your own image

and yet more wonderfully restored us through your son Jesus Christ:

grant that as he came to share in our humanity,

so we may share the life of his divinity;

who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

All. Amen.


Invitation to Praise


Come and see

The cause why things thus fragrant be.

The Darling of the World is come,

And fit it is we find a room

To welcome him.

Awake the voice! Awake the string!

Heart, ear, and eye, and everything!


Robert Herrick (1591 - 1674)


Hymn:              483      'Lift up your heads'


The Blessing