Nine Lessons and Carols Order of Service adapted for an LDS Congregation

**When arranging this, I thought about adding a Book of Mormon reading but decided not to in the end. Some LDS congregations may be interested in adding this in. Additionally, as I am in England, I left in the part of the prayer which asks God to bless the Queen. For those who wish to do this outside of one of Her Majesty’s realms, it would be appropriate to substitute into this your own national leader. This is not as a political statement but as a Christian call to pray for our earthly government and is part of the 13 Articles of Faith.

**For an example of what this service can look like. This service originated at King’s College, Cambridge and is performed and broadcasted from there every year. As such, it is an evocative part of an English or British Christmas. The service lasts about an hour—this video includes some interviews with choristers afterwards.

 

Processional Hymn: ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ (Soloist, Choir, and Congregation)

BIDDING PRAYER:

The Presiding Priesthood Authority or delegated member:     Beloved in Christ, be it this Christmas Eve our care and delight to prepare ourselves to hear again the message of the angels: in heart and mind to go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass, and with the Magi adore the Child lying in his Mother’s arms.

Let us read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience unto the glorious Redemption brought us by this Holy Child; and let us make this chapel, dedicated to Him, glad with our carols of praise:

But first let us pray for the needs of His whole world; for peace and goodwill over all the earth; for unity and brotherhood within the Church He came to build, within the dominions of our sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth and within this City: And let us at this time remember in his name the poor and the helpless, the cold, the hungry and the oppressed; the sick in body and in mind and them that mourn; the lonely and the unloved; the aged and the little children; and all who know not the loving kindness of God.

Lastly let us remember before God all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore and in a greater light, that multitude which no man can number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom we for evermore are one. These prayers and praises let us humbly offer up to the throne of heaven, in the words which Christ himself hath taught us: Our Father…

All:     Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. Amen.

The Presiding Authority or delegated member:     The Almighty God bless us with his grace: Christ give us the joys of everlasting life: and unto the fellowship of the citizens above may the King of Angels bring us all.

All:     Amen.

First Carol: ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ (Choir and Congregation)

 

FIRST LESSON (Reader 1):

God tells sinful Adam that he has lost the life of Paradise and that his seed will bruise the serpent’s head.     Genesis 3

And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Thanks be to God

All:   Thanks be to God

 

Second Carol: ‘Ding Dong! Merrily On High’ (Choir and Congregation)

 

SECOND LESSON

God promises to faithful Abraham that in his seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.     Genesis 22

And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

Thanks be to God

All:   Thanks be to God

 

Second Carol: ‘The Holly And The Ivy’ (Choir)

 

THIRD LESSON

The prophet foretells the coming of the Saviour.     Isaiah 9

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. 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. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Thanks be to God

All:   Thanks be to God

 

Third Carol: ‘Angels From The Realms of Glory’ (Choir)

 

FOURTH LESSON

The peace that Christ will bring is foreshown.     Isaiah 11

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots: and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord. With righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

Thanks be to God

All:   Thanks be to God

 

 

Fourth Carol: ‘In the Bleak Midwinter ’ (Choir and Congregation)

 

FIFTH LESSON

The angel Gabriel salutes the Blessed Virgin Mary.     St Luke 1

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Thanks be to God

All:   Thanks be to God

 

Fifth Carol: ‘In Dulci Jubilo ’ (Choir)

 

SIXTH LESSON

St Luke tells of the birth of Jesus.     St Luke 2

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Thanks be to God

All:   Thanks be to God

 

Sixth Carol: ‘Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day’ (Choir and Congregation)

 

SEVENTH LESSON

The shepherds go to the manger.     St Luke 2

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

Thanks be to God

All:   Thanks be to God

 

Seventh Carol: ‘Away In A Manger’ (Choir and Congregation)

 

EIGHTH LESSON

The wise men are led by the star to Jesus.     St Matthew 2

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judæa: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts, gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

Thanks be to God

All:   Thanks be to God

 

Seventh Carol: ‘Coventry Carol ’ (Choir) (Congregation in individual silent prayer)

 

NINTH LESSON

The congregation stands for the Ninth Lesson.

St John unfolds the great mystery of the Incarnation.     St John 1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light. That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Thanks be to God

All:   Thanks be to God

 

Ninth Carol: ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ (Choir and Congregation)

 

COLLECT & BLESSING

The Presiding Authority or delegated member:     The Lord be with you.

All:     And with thy spirit.

The Presiding Authority or delegated member:     Let us pray.
O God, who makest us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of Thy only son, Jesus Christ: Grant that as we joyfully receive him for our redeemer, so we may with sure confidence behold Him, when He shall come to be our Judge; who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Spirit, world without end.

All:     Amen.

The Presiding Authority or delegated member:     May He who by His Incarnation gathered into one things earthly and heavenly, grant you the fullness of inward peace and goodwill; and the blessing of Almighty God, be upon you and remain with you always.

All:     Amen.

Congregational Hymn: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Organ Recessional: In Dulci Jubilo BWV 729 (J S Bach) followed by one of the following: Fête (Jean Langlais), or Carillon-Sortie – Henri Mulet, or Sinfonia from Cantata 29 – J S Bach Wir danken dir, Gott – arr. Marcel Dupre

On Hymns

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Recently, the Church has announced plans to revise the LDS Hymnal and the Children’s Songbook [https://www.lds.org/music/new-music/frequently-asked-questions?lang=eng] in order to meet the needs of an international and diverse church. This is a great opportunity to re-evaluate the importance of hymns and determine how hymns should be selected for Church services.

The preface to the current Hymnal lists three objectives: that the hymns aid worship in Church services, at home, and in our personal lives. Hymns are ‘an essential part of our church meetings. The hymns invite the Spirit of the Lord, create a feeling of reverence, unify us as members, and provide a way for us to offer praises to the Lord’(Preface to the LDS Hymnal). Additionally, we are encouraged to look to the hymns as a teaching vehicle which will aid us to understand sound doctrine; for, ‘Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns. Hymns move us to repentance and good works, build testimony and faith, comfort the weary, console the mourning, and inspire us to endure to the end’ (Preface to the LDS Hymnal). As one of the signs of the true and universal church is that it will be one, even as God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit are one (John 17:21; D&C 38:20), the special charge that hymns will unify us through encouraging us to repent and teaching us sound doctrine is of vital importance.

One hymn I recently heard in an Anglican service, ‘Sweet Sacrament’, is a neat object lesson of what a hymn ought to look like.  The words are as follows:

1Sweet Sacrament divine,
hid in thine earthly home,
lo, round thy lowly shrine,
with suppliant hearts we come;
Jesus, to thee our voice we raise
in songs of love and heartfelt praise:
sweet Sacrament divine.

2 Sweet Sacrament of peace,
dear home for every heart,
where restless yearnings cease
and sorrows all depart;
there in thine ear all trustfully
we tell our tale of misery:
sweet Sacrament of peace.

3 Sweet Sacrament of rest,
ark from the ocean’s roar,
within thy shelter blest
soon may we reach the shore;
save us, for still the tempest raves,
save, lest we sink beneath the waves:
sweet Sacrament ofrest.

4 Sweet Sacrament divine,
earth’s light and jubilee,
in thy far depths doth shine
thy Godhead’s majesty;
sweet light, so shine on us, we pray,
that earthly joys may fade away:
sweet Sacrament divine.

Notice in the verses of the hymn that there are direct teachings on the Atonement of Christ–the focus of Sacrament services in the LDS Church–and the words reverently encourage worship and devotion. Good hymns convey sound doctrine, have reverent melodies which match the ethos of Christian worship in Sacrament services and are part of the teaching which occurs at Church.  Other music may invite the spirit, may be inspiring, might even teach sound doctrine, but hymn must do all of this in a way which matches the solemnity of sacramental worship, its location in a Chapel dedicated to the Lord, and themes of the broader Church services in which they are used.

As we begin the process of re-evaluating the hymns in our hymnal, let us use this opportunity to remove from our hymnal those songs which, although they may have cultural or historical significance, do not reflect our doctrines, are not reverent and do not best represent the Lord’s charge to His Church.