Christmas carol service

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Leader: Introduction:

Welcome to our Christmas Carol Service. In these last few days before Christmas, we take time out to reflect upon the coming of Jesus. This Christmas Carol Service will help us to reflect on that very first Christmas when Jesus came into the world and encourage us to once again allow the light of Christ to shine through our lives this Christmas time. Let us listen now to the Word of God through his messengers, the angels, the shepherds, the wise men, Mary and Joseph… and we praise in song God’s goodness and God’s great love for us.


Our story begins over 2000 years ago in the land of Palestine. Palestine was a small country, about the size of Northern Ireland. It was the homeland of the Jews, but had been invaded by the Roman army and was under Roman rule. The Jews hated the Romans for their cruelty and because they made them pay taxes. The Jewish prophets for centuries had spoken about a Messiah who would come to rescue the Jews from their Roman oppressors. Expectations of this Messiah were at an all time high. Many Jews believed that God would send a Saviour very soon.

Most of the Jews lived either in the Holy City of Jerusalem or in small villages in the North of the country in the region known as Galilee. Let us go now to the village of Nazareth in Galilee and through a reading from the Gospel of St Luke, meet a young girl called Mary.
Reader 1: A reading from the Gospel of St Luke

An Angel visits Mary

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said,

‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’

Mary was a little troubled at these words and wondered what they could mean. The angel said to her,

‘Do not be afraid, Mary, God has chosen you to be the mother of his Son. You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.’

Mary said, ‘How can this be since I am not yet married?’

The angel said; ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, so the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. For nothing is impossible for God.’

Mary answered,

‘I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.’

And the Angel left her.

Mary: Hi, my name is Mary. Quite a story isn’t it. Angels, the Holy Spirit, God’s Messiah! Who would believe it? And yet it was strange how I had no doubts after the angel’s visit. God had chosen me to bear his son. I don’t know why God chose me. After all, I was only a peasant girl from a poor family. How could I have been chosen for such a wondrous task? I was going to bring the Saviour, the long awaited Messiah, into the world. Even though the whole thing was scary and a little crazy, I trusted the angel’s words and I believed with my whole heart that God is good. God would see me through all the difficulties that lay ahead. Poor Joseph! And my father and mother! I could imagine how angry they would all be. But God would help me to convince Joseph and my family that I had not been unfaithful. God would help me to be a good mother to my son and a good wife to Joseph. I just had to trust in God.

Mary was young and female – characteristics that to the people of her day would make her seem unsuitable to be chosen by God for any major task. But God selected Mary for one of the most important acts of obedience he has ever demanded of anyone. (Pause) You may feel that your ability, experience, or age makes you an unlikely candidate for God’s service. This Christmas, trust God and let God work wonders through you.

Reader 2: A reading from the Gospel of Luke

The Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman World. And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee and travelled up to Judea, to the town of David called Bethlehem, in order to be registered together with Mary, his wife who was with child. While they were there the time came for her to have her baby. She gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger for there was no room for them to stay in the inn.

Everyone: Away In A Manger

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 bed side, ‘til; morning in 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.

Mary: My own beautiful, precious Son . . . All these months I’ve wondered what it would be like to hold you in my arms and hug you tight . . . so many times I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to cope . . . people like my cousin Elizabeth really helped me, and Joseph – Where would we be without Joseph? . . . . He was so worried about finding us a comfortable inn here in Bethlehem…. But we’re fine here, it’s warm and you’re safe… Jesus, I know you are a special child. I don’t know what plans God has in mind for you, but I’ll be the best mother I can be. Joseph and I will do our best for you. I promise you that.

Narrator: Reflection

Although our first picture of Jesus is as a baby in a manger, it must not be our last. The Christ-child in the manger has been made into a beautiful Christmas scene, but we cannot leave him there. This tiny, helpless baby lived an amazing life. He lived and died for us. He ascended into heaven, and will come back to this earth one day as our King. (Pause)

Do you still picture Jesus as a baby in a manger? or is he your Lord? Make sure you don’t underestimate Jesus. Let him grow up in your life. This Christmas, celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus, but this coming year, embrace the man, Jesus, your Lord and Saviour.

Reader 3: If Jesus Came to You at Christmas
Would you have to change your clothes before you let him in?

Or hide some magazines and put the Bible where they had been?

Would you hide your CDs and DVDs and put some hymns books out?

Could you let Jesus walk right in, or would you rush about?

And I wonder …if the Saviour spent a day or two with you,

Would you go right on doing, the things you always do?

Would you go right on saying, the things you always say,

Or would life for you continue as it does from day to day?

Would you take Jesus with you everywhere you go?

Or would you maybe change your plans for just a day or so?

Would you be glad to have Him meet your closest friends?

Or would you hope they stayed away until His visit ends?

Would you be glad to have Him stay forever on and on?

Or would you sigh with great relief when He at last was gone?

It might be interesting to know, the things that you would do,

If Jesus came at Christmas, to spend some time with you.

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;

Where like stars His children crowned

All in white shall wait around.

Reader 4: A reading from the Gospel of Luke

The Angels and the Shepherds

There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you Good News. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Suddenly a great host appeared with the angel, praising God. When the angels had left them, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see what the Lord has told us.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. After they had seen Him, they spread the word about the child, and all who heard it were amazed. Meanwhile Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Shepherd: Hi! My name is Samuel and I am a shepherd boy. I was with my father and some others and we were watching our flocks up in the hills. The night was mild and the sky bright with stars. I remember we were talking about the census and the crowd of strangers it had brought to town. Suddenly, there was a blaze of light – like nothing we had ever seen before. Then we saw an angel standing there. The angel told us not to be afraid, that he brought us good news which will bring great joy to all people. The angel told us that this day in David’s town our Saviour had been born. There was more – things I didn’t understand, about swaddling clothes and a baby in a manger. And there was music. Not the thin sound of a shepherd’s flute, but the glorious thunder of a heavenly choir as a great army of heaven’s angels sang praises to God. ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased!’ As suddenly as the first angel had appeared the great choir was gone and we were alone with the sheep and the twinkling stars. We looked at one another in wonder. Had it all been a dream? Or was it truly our night of salvation? We have to go into the town of Bethlehem I said and so we did.


What a birth announcement! The shepherds were terrified, but their fear turned to joy as the angels announced the Messiah’s birth. First the shepherds ran to see the baby; then they spread the Word.

Jesus is your Messiah, your Saviour. This Christmas look forward to meeting Jesus in prayer and in his Word each day. This Christmas, may you discover a Lord so wonderful that you can’t help sharing your joy with others.
Everyone: Hark The Herald Angels Sing!
Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored

Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Reader 5: A reading from the Gospel of Matthew

Visitors Arrive From Eastern Lands

After Jesus was born, during the time of King Herod, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem and asked. “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the East and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed. He called together all his advisors and asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied.

Then Herod called the Magi. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child, As soon as you find Him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship Him.”

They went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. There they saw the child with His mother Mary and they bowed down and worshipped Him. They opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Wise-man: Hi! My name is Casphar. In the east we believe that stars point to the great events of history. I will never forget the first night that I saw his star – it was the brightest star that I had ever seen. I knew the moment I saw it that this star was telling us of a very important event. This star almost touched the earth. I felt like it was calling me, compelling me to follow it. So I did. On my journey I met two others who had seen and followed the same star. Finally, after many months we reached the land of Palestine. We sought the help of a local leader, a King called Herod. He seemed anxious that we share all our information with him and he sent us on to Bethlehem. The star seemed to settle over a stable and as we went towards it we saw a young couple and their newborn son. And this is where we are now. They seem so much at peace. It is such a beautiful scene, one that I will treasure always. We know that this small baby will change the course of history. We have left them gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We were going to return to tell Herod when an angel warned us not to, so we will have to find a different way home. But for now we will just sit for a while and honour the Lord Jesus, Saviour of the whole world.

The three kings travelled thousands of miles to greet the baby Jesus. When they finally found Him they responded with joy, worship and gifts.

Today… we expect God to find us. We expect God to give us gifts.

Ask yourself: when was the last time that I took time out of my day to acknowledge God’s presence with me.

Let us take the time this Christmas to look for Jesus and to worship Him for who He is.

Reader 6: The First Christmas

It never snows at Christmas in that dry and dusty land.

Instead of freezing blizzards, there are palms and drifting sands,

And years ago a stable and a most unusual star

And three wise men who followed it, by camel, not by car, while, sleepy on the quiet hills, a shepherd gave a cry. He’d seen a crowd of angels in the silent starlit sky.

In the stable, ox and donkey stood very still and calm

And gazed upon the baby, safe and snug, in Mary’s arms. And Joseph, lost in shadows, face lit by an oil lamp’s glow stood wondering, that first Christmas Day, two thousand years ago.


In the years since Christ’s birth we too have come to treasure this nativity story.

So like Mary, Joseph, the Angels, the Shepherds and the Wise Men, let us stop now for a few moments and ponder this scene in our heart.

Everyone: 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 Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Leader: We will now have the Prayer of the Faithful (Pause)

We have no other light but Christ. He came down from heaven to show us the way to our heavenly Father. Let us pray to him with unlimited confidence as we look forward to celebrating his birth. The response to the prayers is: Lord graciously hear us.
Reader 7: (Read 2 prayers each)

We pray for God’s family, the Church, that we might open our minds and hearts to the love of God this Christmas.

Lord hear us

We pray this Christmas that, like Mary, people will be open- hearted and give to the many charities at home and abroad which help the poor, so that others can have a happy Christmas.

Lord hear us

Reader 8: Mary followed God’s will in making a difficult decision. We pray that God will help us to when we are faced with difficult choices in our lives.

Lord hear us
The shepherds experienced the joy of Christmas. We pray that, through Jesus, all families may experience the joy of Christmas this year.

Lord hear us
Reader 9: The three kings travelled thousands of miles. We pray for all who are away from their home this Christmas. We pray especially for refugees and people who have been forced to flee their own country. May they enjoy the peace of Christmas wherever they are.

Lord hear us
Christmas can be a difficult time for those who have lost a loved one. We pray for the bereaved, and for the souls of those that we know and love who have died.

Lord hear us

Leader: Father, your Son scattered the darkness of this world and filled it with your glory. Grant that through His grace we may live as children of the light and come at last to the kingdom where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever, Amen.

Reader 10: Love

Probably the reason

we all go so haywire at Christmas time

with the endless, unrestrained

and often silly buying of gifts

is that we don't quite know

how to put our love into words.
Deep down inside we know
that the best gifts
don't come from catalogues
or shopping centres.
They don't come in brightly-coloured packages
or fancy envelopes
and they're not sitting under a tree somewhere...

The best gifts come from the heart.

They come when we look at each other and say
'You mean a lot to me'
or 'I'm so glad you're a part of my life'
A gift like that
will never go out of style
or be forgotten
or be returned for a different size.
A gift like that can change the world.

Hymn: In the stillness of Night

In the stillness of the night

Somewhere a baby cries

In the stillness of night

A child is born

In a stable cold and dark

And in a manager laid

Bringing hope to all the world

In the stillness of the night

In the stillness of the night

The shepherds tend their sheep

In the stillness of the night when all is calm

Then the heavens blaze with the light

They hear the angels song

Bringing joy all the world

In the stillness of the night
In the stillness of the night

The royal kings draw near

In the stillness of the night

The kneel and pray

And they offer to the child

The precious gifts they bear

Bringing homage to the king

In the stillness of the night

In the stillness of your heart

The Christ child calls to you

In the stillness of your heart

He speaks your name

Let him come into your life

He’ll bring you hope and joy

You can offer him you love

In the stillness of the night.

Reader 11: A Christmas Prayer

Lord, Jesus Christ,

You are the Son of God and Son of Mary.

You are our brother, our friend,

And Saviour of all peoples.
Fill our hearts with joy

As once again we celebrate your birth at Bethlehem.

Open our eyes

So that we may see you in the people around us.

Open our lips

So that we may speak words that are kind.

Open our hands

So that we may be generous to others.

Let us see you

In the beauty of flowers and stars.

Let us hear you

In the whisper of the breeze.

Let us feel you

In the company of family and friends.

Let us know you

In our times of prayer.

Prince of peace,

Bless us this Christmas.

Leader: Final Prayer

We thank you for all the joy and happiness of Christmas. Amid all the laughter and fun may we remember the baby who was born in a stable 2000 years ago. Help us to follow his example and to bring the real meaning of Christmas into the lives of all whom we meet. Amen.

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