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Christmas Day – 25th December 2016

HYMN: Of the Father’s love begotten

Composer: Traditional (arr. Richard Lloyd b. 1933)
Sung by the choir of Winchester Cathedral and the Bach Choir

1. Of the Father’s love begotten,
Ere the world began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega, 
He the source, the ending he,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore!

2. At his word they were created;
He commanded; it was done:
Heaven and earth and depth of ocean
In their threefold order one;
All that grows beneath the shining
Of the light of moon and sun,
Evermore and evermore!

3. O that birth forever blessèd
When the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost’s conceiving
Bare the Saviour of our race,
And the babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed his sacred face,
Evermore and evermore!

4. O ye heights of heaven adore him;
Angel hosts, his praises sing;
Powers, Dominions, bow before him,
And extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing,
Evermore and evermore!

Words: Prudentius 348-c.413, Tr J M Neale, 1818-1866 H W Baker 1821-1877 and others

Isaiah 9.2-7

The people who walked in darkness
     have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
     on them light has shined. 
You have multiplied the nation,
     you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
     as with joy at the harvest,
     as people exult when dividing plunder. 
For the yoke of their burden,
     and the bar across their shoulders,
     the rod of their oppressor,
     you have broken as on the day of Midian. 
For all the boots of the tramping warriors
     and all the garments rolled in blood
     shall be burned as fuel for the fire. 
For a child has been born for us,
     a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
     and he is named
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
     Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 
His authority shall grow continually,
     and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
     He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
     from this time onwards and for evermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. 


ANTHEM: Mary did you know?

Music by Buddy Greene, arranged and sung by Pentatonix

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?

Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy will calm the storm with His hand?

Did you know that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kiss the face of God?
Mary did you know? Mary did you know?

The blind will see.
The deaf will hear.
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap.
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?

Did you knowthat your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.

Words: Mark Lowry, 1996


Psalm 96

1 O sing to the Lord a new song:
sing to the Lord, all the earth.

2 Sing to the Lord and bless his holy name:
proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day.

3 Declare his glory among the nations:
and his wonders among all peoples.

4 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised:
he is more to be feared than all gods.

5 As for all the gods of the nations, they are mere idols:
it is the Lord who made the heavens.

6 Majesty and glory are before him:
beauty and power are in his sanctuary.

7 Render to the Lord, you families of the nations:
render to the Lord glory and might.

8 Render to the Lord the honour due to his name:
bring offerings and come into his courts.

9 O worship the Lord in the beauty of his holiness:
let the whole earth stand in awe of him.

10 Say among the nations that the Lord is king:
he has made the world so firm
that it can never be moved;
and he shall judge the peoples with equity.

11 Let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad:
let the sea roar, and all that fills it:

12 Let the fields rejoice, and everything in them:
then shall all the trees of the wood
shout with joy before the Lord;

13 For he comes, he comes to judge the earth:
he shall judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with his truth.


ANTHEM: Bogoroditse Devo

Composer: Sergei Rachmaninoff
Sung by the choir of King’s College, Cambridge

Богородице Дево, радуйся, благодатная Марие, Господь с тобою. Благословена ты в женах, и благословен плод чрева твоего, яко Спаса родила еси душ наших.

Bogoróditse Dyévo, ráduisya, Blagodátnaya Maríye, Gospód s tobóyu. Blagoslovyéna ty v zhenákh, i blagoslovyén plod chryéva tvoyevó, yáko Spása rodilá yesí dush náshikh.

Rejoice, O virgin mother of God, Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you: blessed art you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, for you have borne the Saviour of our souls.

Words from the Russian Orthodox liturgy.


HYMN: It came upon the midnight clear

Composer: English melody (arr. Arthur Sullivan 1842-1900)
Sung by the Choir of Lincoln Cathedral

1. 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, goodwill to men,
From heaven’s all-gracious King.’
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

2. Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its babel sounds
The blessèd angels sing.

3. 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.

4. For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendours fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

Words: Edmund Sears 1810-1876

Titus 2.11-14

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.


ANTHEM: Ave Maria

Composer: Thomas Luis da Victoria ca 1548-1611
Sung by the Choir of Peterborough Cathedral 

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum; benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus Christus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus Christ. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Words: Luke 1.28, 42 and St Peter Canisius


ANTHEM: The Shepherd’s Cradle Song


Composer: based on the 1817 work Des Hirten Wiegenlied by Karl Leuner,
arranged by Charles Macpherson 1870-1927
Sung by the Choir of Ely Cathedral

1. O sleep thou heaven-born treasure, thou,
Sleep sound, thou dearest child;

White angel wings shall fan thy brow
With breezes soft and mild.
We shepherds poor are here to sing
A simple lullay to our King.
Lullaby, sleep softly, lullaby.

2. See, Mary has with mother’s love
A bed for thee outspread,

While Joseph stoops
And watches at thy head,
The lambkins in the stall so nigh,
That thou mayest sleep,
Have hushed their cry.
Lullaby, sleep softly, lullaby.

3. And when thou art big and art a man
Full woe’s in store for thee;

For cruel men thy death will plan,
And hang thee on a tree.
So sleep, my baby, whilst thou may,
‘Twill give thee rest against that day.
Lullaby, sleep softly, lullaby. 

Karl Leuner Tr by Arthur Foxton Ferguson 1866-1920 


HYMN: O little town of Bethlehem

Composer: English melody (arr. David Willcocks 1919-2015)
Sung by the choir of St Peter’s Cathedral, Adelaide 

1. O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

2. For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love
O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King
And Peace to men on earth
3. How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven
No ear may hear His coming
But in this world of sin
Where meek souls will receive him still
The dear Christ enters in

4. O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel

Words: Bishop Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), 1868


Luke 2.1-20

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and 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 heaven,
    and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.


Shepherd’s Pipe Carol

Composer: John Rutter (b. 1945)
Sung by the Cambridge Singers

1. Going through the hills on a night all starry
On the way to Bethlehem,
Far away I heard a shepherd boy piping
On the way to Bethlehem,
Angels in the sky brought this message nigh:
‘Dance and sing for joy that Christ the newborn King
Is come to bring us peace on Earth,
And he’s lying cradled there at Bethlehem.’

2. “Tell me, shepherd boy piping tunes so merrily
On the way to Bethlehem,
Who will hear your tunes on these hills so lonely?”
On the way to Bethlehem,
Angels in the sky brought this message nigh:
‘Dance and sing for joy that Christ the newborn King
Is come to bring us peace on Earth,
And he’s lying cradled there at Bethlehem.’ 

3. “None may hear my pipes on these hills so lonely
On the way to Bethlehem,
But a King will hear me play sweet lullabies
When I get to Bethlehem.”
Angels in the sky came down from on high,
Hovered o’er the manger where the babe was lying
Cradled in the arms of his mother Mary,
Sleeping now at Bethlehem

4. “Where is this new King, shepherd boy piping merrily,
Is he there at Bethlehem?”
“I will find him soon by the star shining brightly

In the sky o’er Bethlehem.”
Angels in the sky brought this message nigh:

‘Dance and sing for joy that Christ the newborn King
Is come to bring us peace on Earth,
And he’s lying cradled there at Bethlehem.’ 

5.“May I come with you, shepherd boy piping merrily,
Come with you to Bethlehem?
Pay my homage too at the new King’s cradle,

Is it far to Bethlehem?”
Angels in the sky brought this message nigh:

‘Dance and sing for joy that Christ the infant King
Is born this night in lowly stable yonder,
Born for you at Bethlehem.’

Words: John Rutter

Reflection for  Christmas Day

When Jesus came into the world, he didn’t arrive in pomp and majesty, nor was he known by Caesar Augustus, but came to a small family from an insignificant rural village of no importance. When the angels sang in chorus, the only ones to hear were shepherds in the fields with their sheep. Jesus is grace of God who brings salvation to all. May we like Mary ponder these things in our hearts.

  • May this Christmas time be one when we see Jesus anew, return to him, obey and follow him.
  • Give thanks for the work and witness of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Palestine.
  • Give thanks for the witness of all churches dedicated under the patronage of Jesus Christ, remembering especially Christ Church Cathedral, Ballarat, Christ Church Cathedral, Darwin, Christ Church Cathedral, Grafton, and Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle.

Written by Dr Michael Sutton, Catechist, St Paul’s Anglican Church Burwood. © Anglican Board of Mission, 2016


HYMN: Joy to the World

Tune: Antioch, Lowell Mason 1792-1872
Sung by the choir of Washington National Cathedral

1. Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

2. Joy to the World, the Saviour reigns!
Let us our songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

3. No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

4. He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of his love,
And wonders of his love,
And wonders, wonders, of his love.

Words: Isaac Watts 1674-1748


ANTHEM: Organ improvisation on Do You Hear What I Hear and Joy to the World

Timothy J. Brumfield plays the Great Organ at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York.