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Christus Paradox

This service of Lessons and Carols from 1998 draws texts from some of the most muscular and profound of the Christian tradition.

Tonight's service is an extended meditation on the incomprehensible incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. The texts chosen include not a single "ding, dong," ''fum,fum fum,'' "fa, la, la," or "holly and ivy." Nor is there a single reference to those "merry gentlemen." While such texts have their place, they-may also unwittingly contribute to the' saccharine sentimentality that often surrounds this season, even the arena of well-crafted sacred music.

In contrast, tonight's texts are drawn from some of the most muscular and profound of the Christian tradition: the medieval hymn writer Fortunatus, the English metaphysical poets Southwell and Crashaw, the Danish-philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, and from the most theologically profound of all the familiar carols, "Hark the' Herald Angels Sing," "Once in Royal David's City," and "Of the Father's Love Begotten."

Some of these texts may require a second or third reading, especially Southwell's "A Child My Choice. " We invite you to take this order of service home with you following this service, and to use the scripture readings and carol texts as a guide to your personal and family worship during this Advent season. One lesson and carol per day, beginning on December 17, will lead you up to John 1 and "Welcome All Wonders
in One Sight" on Christmas Day.

Throughout the past semester;' the Campus Choir has been studying the theological, historical, and liturgical expressions of the paradox of the incarnation. Tonight, we hope to lead you not into feelings 'Of warm sentimentality, but rather profound wonder. Welcome all wonders in one sight!

Organ Voluntary: "All Glory Be To God on High," arr. Wilbur Held

Processional Hymn: "Once in Royal David's City"

Psalter Hymnal 346
Stanza 1: choir
Stanza 2: women and girls
Stanza 3: men and boys
Organ interlude
Stanza 4: all, harmony
Stanza 5: all, with descant

Bidding Prayer:

Pastor: Beloved in Christ, as we await the great festival of Christmas, we prepare ourselves so that we may be shown its true meaning. We have gathered to hear, in readings from the holy scriptures, how the prophets of Israel foretold that God would visit and redeem his waiting people. We rehearse again the account of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience to the glorious redemption brought us by this Great Little One, the Eternal Word, our Lord Jesus Christ. We rejoice, in carols and hymns, that the good purpose of God is being mightily fulfilled. The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up.

But first, we pray for the world which God so loves, for those who have not heard the good news of Christ, or who do not believe it; for those who walk in darkness and the shadow of death; and for the Church in this place and everywhere, that it may be freed from all evil and fear, and may in pure joy lift up the light of the love of God. These prayers we humbly offer as we meditate on each of the readings from holy scripture, and also now, in the words that our Lord Jesus Christ taught us.

All:Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. Amen!

God's Greeting

Biding Anthem: "Arise Shine," Donald Pearson

I. Watersprings in the Desert

Scripture: Genesis 3:8-19; Isaiah 35:1-2

Leader: The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God!

"He Turneth the Wilderness," Randall Thompson

"Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus"

II. The Mighty Morningstar

Scripture: Numbers 24:15-19; Luke 1:46-55

Leader: The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God!

"There Shall a Star Come Out of Jacob" (from "Christus"), Felix Mendelssohn

"How Bright Appears the Morningstar"

Psalter Hymnal 357
Stanza 1

III. The Heavenly Priest and Mediator

Scripture: Hebrews 1:1-3, 7:26-8:1

Leader: The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God!

Two Hymns on the Mediation of Christ

"Of the Father's Love Begotten"

Psalter Hymnal 342
Stanza 1: choir
Stanza 2: men and boys, chant-like
Stanza 3: women and girls, chant-like
Stanzas 4-5: all

"My God Is So High," arr. Moses Hogan

IV. A Little Child Shall Lead Them

Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-9

Leader: The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God!

"A Child, My Choice," Richard Dirksen

V. A Light to All Nations

Scripture: Isaiah 56:1-3, 6-8

Leader: The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God!

"Muchindiakani Yesu Mtuwa" (Malawi), Ben Nhlane

"Shenye qing, shengye jing, Qigui Shi" (China), arr. I-to Loh

"Strålande Jul" (Sweden), Gustaf Nordqvist

"Gloria, Gloria, Gloria" (Argentina), Pablo Sosa

VI. Christus Paradox

Scripture: Isaiah 9:6, 52:2-3, 9:7

Leader: The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God!

"Christus Paradox," arr. Alfred Fedak

This text was written by Canadian hymnwriter Sylvia Dunstan, who was inspired by the writings of Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard on the mystery of the incarnation.

"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"

Psalter Hymnal 345
Stanzas 1-3: all, harmony

VII. Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

Scripture: Luke 2:8-20

Leader: The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God!

Two French Noels

"Noe, Noe Pastores," Guillame Bougnizac

"Angels We Have Heard on High"

Psalter Hymnal 347
Stanzas 1-3: all, softly
Refrain: with vigor

This piece begins with a naively dramatic depiction of the shepherd's encounter with the angels--the music depicts stupefied shepherds in shock over the words of this triumphant angel. When the shepherds regain their senses, they ask one of the most pressing questions in medieval Christology, "Why did God become human?" (Anselm wrote a famous treatise with this title.) The work concludes with a chorus of praise to the infant Christ.

VIII. God With Us

Scripture: Matthew 1:18-23; II Corinthians 8:9

Leader: The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God!

"You Who Were Rich Beyond All Splendor," arr. John Worst

IX. The Eternal Word

Scripture: John 1:1-4, 14

Leader: The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God!

"Welcome All Wonders in One Sight," Richard Dirksen

The text for "Welcome All Wonders in One Sight" is perhaps the most famous poem on the incarnation of all the English metaphysical poets. Every line of the poem speaks of the incomprehensible paradox of the incarnation.


Pastor: Almighty God,
you have given us a glimpse of glory
at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In Christ, you have filled us with hope
as we long for the coming kingdom of God.
We praise this "Great little One, whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heaven to earth."
With confidence and hope in your promises,
we echo the prayers of your saints throughout all times and places:

"Song of Simeon," Claude Goudimel

Pastor: We pray this through Jesus Christ our Lord,
All: Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen!

Parting Challenge:

Pastor: Go forth into the world in peace;
Hold fast to that which is good;
Render to no one evil for evil;
Strengthen the faint-hearted;
Support the weak;
Help the afflicted;
Honor all people;
Love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.


Pastor: And may the God of peace
make you holy in every way
and keep your whole being-- spirit, soul, and body --
free from every fault at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
All: Alleluia! Amen!

Recessional Hymn: "O Come, All Ye Faithful"

Psalter Hymnal 340

Organ Voluntary: "Fugue in G Major," Johann Sebastian Bach