Christmas Carol Service – Live Streamed – Sunday, 19 December 2021

Please note that the video feed will go live from around 6:15 pm and will be switched off after the service.
A separate video feed of the choir is available here.

Introit: The Lamb

Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee
Gave thee life & bid thee feed
by the stream and o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
softest clothing wooly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
making all the vales rejoice:
Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee

Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee;
He is called by thy name,
for he calls himself a Lamb;
He is meek & he is mild,
He became a little child:
I a child & thou a lamb,
we are called by his name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee,
Little Lamb, God bless thee.

William Blake (1757–1827)
John Tavener (1944–2013)


Opening Prayer

God of wonder, with joy and celebration we gather today
to welcome afresh the gift of the child born to be king;
Emmanuel, God with us; light for the world and a beacon in the darkness.
Jesus Christ is born among us.
Jesus Christ is born for us.
Let us come to you and celebrate.


Carol: Once in royal David’s city

[Choir] 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.

[All] And through all his wondrous childhood
he would honour and obey,
love, and watch the lowly maiden
in whose gentle arms he lay;
Christian children all must be
mild, obedient, good as he.

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.

For he is our childhood pattern,
day by day like us he grew;
he was little, weak and helpless,
tears and smiles like us he knew;
and he feeleth for our sadness,
and he shareth in our gladness.

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.

Cecil Francis Alexander (1818–1895)


Isaiah 9: 2–3 & 6–7

Read by Katherine Wheldon

2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.

6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and for ever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.


For into us a child is born

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given,
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

G.F. Handel (1685–1759)


Luke 1: 26–38

Read by Don Head

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants for ever; his kingdom will never end.’

34 ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’

35 The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on 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. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.’

38 ‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her.


There is a flower

There is a flower sprung of a tree
the root thereof is called Jesse,
a flower of price; there is none such in paradise.

This flower is fair and fresh of hue,
it fadeth never, but ever is new;
the blessed branch this flower on grew
was Mary mild that bare Jesu
a flower of grace; against all sorrow it is solace.

The seed hereof was Goddes sand.
that God himself sowed with his hand.
In Nazareth that holy land.
Amidst her arbour a maiden found.
This blessed flower sprang never but in Mary’s bower.

When Gabriel this maid did meet.
with ‘Ave Maria’ he did her greet;
between the two this flower was set
and safe was kept, no man should wit,
Till on a day in Bethlem it could spread and spray.

When that fair flower began to spread
And his sweet blossom began to bed,
Then rich and poor of every land
They marvelled how this flower might spread.
Till kinges three that blessed flower came to see.

John Audelay (15th century)
John Tavener (1944–2013)

Carol: Silent night

Silent night, holy night,
all is calm, all is bright.
round yon virgin and her child,
holy infant so tender and mild:
sleep in heavenly peace.
sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night.
Shepherd quake at the sight’
glories stream from heaven afar,
heavenly hosts sing alleluia;
Christ, the Saviour is born,
Christ, the Saviour 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.

Joseph Mohr (1792–1848)
tr. J.F. Young (1820–1885)

The Manger Scene

Luke 2: 1–7

Read by Glynne Gordon-Carter

The Birth of Jesus

1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.


O Magnum Mysterium

O magnum mysterium, sacramentum, et admirable, sacramentum.
O magnum mysterium, ut animalia viderent Dominum natum.
Jacentum in praesepio! Beata Virgo, jujus viscera meruerunt,
Beata Virgo portare Dominum Christum. Alleluia!

O great mystery, divine and wondrous sacrament,
that in a humble crib the ox and ass should see

their Lord and Saviour revealed before them in human form;

O most blessed Virgin, who by heavenly grace God found

worthy to bear the Saviour Christ Jesus our Lord, Alleluia.

Responsory for Christmas Day
Morten Lauridsen (b. 1943)

Carol: It came upon the midnight clear

It came upon the midnight clear,
that glorious song of old,
from angels bending near the earth
to touch their harps of gold;
‘Peace on the earth, good will to men,
from heaven’s all-gracious King!’
The world in solemn stillness lay
to hear the angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
the world has suffered long;
beneath the angel-strain have rolled
two thousand years of wrong;
and man, at war with man, hears not
the love-song which they bring:
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
and hear the angels sing!

For lo, the days are hastening on,
by prophets seen of old,
when with the ever-circling years
shall come the time foretold,
when the new heaven and earth shall own
the prince of peace their king,
and all the world send back the song
which now the angels sing.

E.H. Sears (1810–1876)

Angels and Shepherds

Luke 2: 8–20

Read by Rosemary Kearsey

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.’

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.


Hodie Christus natus est

Hodie Christus natus est. Noe.
Salvator apparuit, Alleluia.
In terra canunt angeli, laetantur arcangeli.
Exultant justi dicentes: Gloria in excelsis.

Today Christ is born.
Today the Saviour appears.
Today the angels sing on earth, the archangels rejoice:
Glory to God in the highest. Alleluia!

Vesper Antiphon, Christmas Day
J.P. Sweelinck (1562–1621)

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 the angelic host proclaim’
Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Hark, the herald angels sing,
glory to the newborn 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 the incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with man to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark, the herald angels sing,
glory to the new-born King.

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 man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth:
Hark, the herald angels sing,
glory to the new-born King.

Charles Wesley (1707–1788) and others

Wise Men

Matthew 2: 1–12

Read by David Chapman

The Magi Visit the Messiah

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’

3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written:

6 ‘ “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.”’

7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.


Coventry Carol

Carol: We three Kings of Orient are

[Choir] We three Kings of Orient are;
bearing gifts we traverse afar,
field and fountain, moor and mountain,
following yonder star.

[All] O Star of wonder, star of night,
star with royal beauty bright,
westward leading, still proceeding,
guide us to thy perfect light.

[Choir] Born a King on Bethlehem plain,
gold I bring to crown him again,
King for ever, ceasing never,
over us all to reign.

[All] O Star of wonder, …

[Choir] Frankincense to offer have I,
incense owns a deity nigh.
Prayer and praising, all are raising,
worship him, God most high.

[All] O Star of wonder, …

[Choir] Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
breathes a life of gathering gloom;
sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

[All] O Star of wonder, …

Glorious now behold him arise,
King and God and sacrifice.
‘Alleluia, alleluia!’
earth to heaven replies.

O Star of wonder, star of night,
star with royal beauty bright,
westward leading, still proceeding,
guide us to thy perfect light.

J.H. Hopkins (1820–1891)

Prayers and Intercessions

Circle us, Lord.
Circle us with the light of your presence, bright within this dark world.
Enable us to be overcomers of fear and temptation.
Enable us to be victors over sin and despair.
Enable us to become that which you would desire.

Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation,
circle us with the light of your presence.

Circle us, Lord.
Circle our family within the shelter of your outstretched arms.
Protect them in each moment of their daily lives.
Protect them in the decisions that they face.
Protect their homes and relationships.

Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation,
circle our families with the light of your presence.

Circle us, Lord.
Circle this nation with Christmas love and hope.
Create a desire to listen to the Christmas message.
Create a willingness to understand and respond.
Create a need to reach out to the Christ Child.

Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation,
circle our families with the nation of your presence.

Circle us, Lord.
Circle this world with the joy of your Salvation.
Where there is sickness and disease bring healing.
Where there is hunger and despair bring hope.
Where there is torture and oppression bring release.

Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation,
circle this world with the light of your presence.


Shout for joy the whole earth,
and everything within.
For Light has come into the world.

The mountains sing,
the seas resound to the praise of your name.

Salvation once promised is here on earth.

The angels’ song rings in the air,
a child has been born.
The Saviour of the world is here.


Where Riches is Everlastingly

Into this world this day did come Jesus Christ both God and Man,
Lord and servant in one person, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
I pray you be merry and sing with me in worship of Christ’s nativity.

He that was rich without a need appeared in this world in right poor weed.
To make us that were poor indeed, riches without any need truly.

A stable was his chamber, a crib was his bed, He had not a pillow under his head;
With maiden’s milk that babe was fed, in poor clothes was wrapped the Lord Almighty.

A noble lesson here is taught, to set all worldly riches at naught,
but pray that we may be thither brought where riches is everlastingly.

(16th century)

Final Prayer

Loving God,
today help us to look upon the food we share with thanks,
help us to take joy in the company of our friends and family,
help us to be thankful for all the gifts with which you bless us.
In the name of Jesus, who is born in hearts again today.


Carol: O come, all ye faithful

O come, all ye faithful,
joyful and triumphant.
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
come and behold him, born the king of angels:

O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.

God of God, light of light,
lo! He abhors not the virgin’s womb;
very God,
begotten not created:

O come, let us adore him, …

Sing, choirs of angels,
sing in exultation,
sing all ye citizens of heaven above;
glory to God in the highest:

O come, let us adore him, …

Latin (18th century)
tr. Frederick Oakeley (1802–1880) and others


Let us go from this place proclaiming that we have seen the glory of God,
believing that there is a light that shines in the darkness, which the darkness shall not overcome.

And may the love of the Creator,
the joy of the Spirit
and the peace of the Christ-child
be with you this Christmas, and evermore.