We were filled to capacity last night for the annual Service of Lessons and Carols, with choir and orchestra. It was just superb. Our thanks to Bill Wymond, Connie Wadsworth and everyone who took part. Here are the musical pieces and the readings.
A Christmas Service of Lessons and Carols
First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi
The Orchestra Prelude – Farandole (Bizet)
On behalf of the Session of the First Presbyterian Church, I want warmly to welcome you to this, our annual service of lessons and carols.
Please note that the choir and orchestra seek no applause for themselves, but rather desire to give praise alone to God, and to help you worship him in your hearts.
At the end of the service, after the Benediction, the Choir will be remaining here until the orchestra is finished with the postlude. You are, of course, welcome to stay and listen to the postlude, but at that time I will give you some indication that you are free to depart.
During the service, there will be an offering taken this evening for the relief and aid of retired ministers and their families. We encourage our congregation to contribute, but our visitors should not feel compelled to do so. This service and music is our free gift of love to you.
The Call to Worship
Beloved in Christ, at this Christmastide let it be our care and delight to hear again the message of the angels, and in heart and mind to go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass, and the Babe lying in a manger.
Therefore 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.
But first, let us pray for the needs of the whole world; for peace on earth and goodwill among all his people; for unity and brotherhood within the Church he came to build, and especially in this our city and congregation.
And because this of all things would rejoice his heart, let us remember, in his name, the poor and helpless, the cold, the hungry, and the oppressed; the sick and them that mourn, the lonely and the unloved, the aged and the little children; all those who know not the Lord Jesus, or who love him not, or who by sin have grieved his heart of love.
Lastly, let us remember the hope which is set before us; we think of 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 in the Lord Jesus we are one for evermore.
To God be the glory.
The Processional Hymn–Once in Royal David’s City
The Anthem–Nova! Nova! (arr. Chilcott)
The First Lesson
Genesis 3 (8-15) – The first offer of the Gospel.
God tells sinful Adam and Eve that they have lost the life of Paradise because of their rebellion, but that (in His mercy and grace) the seed of woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.
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.
Thanks be to God.
The Anthem–Climb to the Top of the Highest Mountain (arr. Jennings)
Genesis 22 (15-18) – God promises to faithful Abraham that in his seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.
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.
The Anthem–One December, Bright and Clear (arr. Wilberg)
The Third Lesson
Isaiah 9 (2, 6-7) – The Prophet foretells the coming of the Savior.
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.
The Anthem–Ubi Caritas (Duruflé)
Isaiah 11 (1-9) – The Peace that Christ will bring is foreshown.
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.
The Anthem–Ding Dong Merrily on High (arr. Wilberg)
Luke 1 (26-33) – The angel Gabriel salutes the Virgin Mary.The arrival of the promised Messiah is announced
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.
The Anthem–I Saw Three Ships (arr. Rutter)
The Sixth Lesson
Luke 2 (1-7) – Luke tells of the birth of Jesus. The Gospel account of Christ’s nativity.
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar 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 JudFa, 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.
The Anthem–The First Nowell (arr. Wilberg)
The Congregational Carol No. 201 "O Little Town of Bethlehem"
O God, who makest us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of thine 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, one God, world without end.
And receive these our offerings for thy needy servants.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Joy Gift Offering for Retired Ministers and their Wives
The Anthem–Carol to the King (arr. Wilberg)
The Seventh Lesson
Luke 2 (8-16) – The shepherds go to the manger, upon hearing the angelic heralds of Messiah’s birth.
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.
The Anthem–Still, Still, Still (Wilberg)
The Eighth Lesson
Matthew 2 (1-11) – The Wise Men are led by the star to Jesus. The ancient prophecy is fulfilled.
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of JudFa 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 Judea: 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.
The Anthem–The Coming of Our King (arr. Rutter)
John 1 (1-14) – John unfolds the great mystery of the Incarnation. The Divinity and Glory of the Messiah is set forth.
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.
The Anthem–O Come All Ye Faithful (arr. Wilberg)
The Congregational Carol "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" (arr. Pelz)
May he who by his Incarnation gathered into one things earthly and heavenly,
grant you the fullness of Gospel favor and peace;
and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
rest upon you, and be amongst you and remain with you always.
Go in grace and peace.
The Postlude–God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen (Organ and Orchestra)