Jesus, a Light for the Nations

This service of Lessons and Carols from 2012 witnesses to a great outburst of Advent and Christmas music from around the world.

Guardian Angel with Blue Wings (detail) by Laura James

While a large portion of the Old Testament's narrative of God's salvation history is focused on Israel, God's chosen people, let's not forget that here and there in the Old Testament are glimpses of Christ's cosmic kingdom, one that encompassed all nations. 

"All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations." (Psalm 22:27-28)

Isaiah 9:2 prophesies: "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light, on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned."

That light is Jesus the Christ, as Luke 2:30-32 explains in the words of Simeon: "For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel." John explains this "light" imagery further in the first chapter of his gospel.

It is noteworthy that Jesus' birth is announced to Jewish shepherds first, but that before too long the Magi arrive from the east, bearing with them gifts for the Christ child. In the memorable words of Psalm 72:10-11, "May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores bring tribute to him [the King]. May the kings of Sheba and Seba present him gifts. May all the kings bow down to him and all nations service him."

So it should be be surprising that amidst all the nativity art of the Renaissance (in which Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds look remarkably European), we also have the great "Black Madonna" sculptures, and more recently Laura James' fascination with Ethiopian art (the artist of the cover). We often sing hymns and carols from a European heritage, but we also witness a great outburst of Advent and Christmas music from around the world--in the languages and styles of "all the nations," as we will hear in today's service with examples from Nigeria, Norway, South Africa, the Caribbean, Cameroon, and Venezuela.

Prelude: 

"Festive Gloria," Aaron David Miller
"Angels We Have Heard on High," Wayne L. Wold
"Glory to God," Emily Maxson Porter
Noel on "Twas in the Moon of WIntertime," Larry Visser
Psalm 97: "God Reigns! Earth Rejoices!" Raymond H. Haan
Two Preludes on "In Dulci Jubilo," J.S. Bach

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

Psalter Hymnal 346 and Psalms for All Seasons 132B

Greeting:

Pastor: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

All: And also with you. Amen.

Prayer for Illumination

To Us a Child Is Born

Scripture: Isaiah 9:2-7

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

"Amuworo ayi otu nwa" (Sung in Igbo), Christian Onyeji (Nigeria)

"Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus"

Worship and Rejoice 153
Stanza 1: all
Stanza 2: all in unison

A Branch from the Root of Jesse

Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-9

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

"There Shall Come Forth a Shoot," K. Lee Scott (USA)

"A Spotless Rose," Ola Gjeilo (Norway)

The Blessings of the Coming Messiah

Scripture: Isaiah 35:1-10

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

"O Day of Peace"

Worship and Rejoice 539
all in unison

"Y'susum Midbar" (Sung in Hebrew), David Zahavi (Israel)

"Modimo re a go boka" (South Africa)

The Birth of Christ Foretold

Scripture: Luke 1:26-38

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

The Song of Mary: "My Soul Proclaims with Wonder"

"The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy." Stephen Hatfield (Trinidad)

The Birth of Christ

Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25

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

"He Came Down," Nancy Grundahl (USA)

"Joy to the World"

Psalter Hymnal 337
Stanzas 1 and 2: all
Stanza 3: all in unison
Stanza 4: all

The Angels and Shepherds at Christ's Birth

Scripture: Luke 2:8-20

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

"Venezuelan Carol" (Sung in Spanish), Andrew Carter (Britain)

In the Beginning...The Word Became Flesh

Scripture: John 1:1-14

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

"In Dulci Jubilo," Michael Praetorius (Germany)

"Of the Father's Love Begotten

Psalter Hymnal 342
Stanza 1: all
Stanza 2: women and girls
Stanza 3: men and boys
Stanzas 4 and 5: all

Prayer and Benediction

Recessional Hymn: "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing"

Psalter Hymnal 345
Stanzas 1 and 2: all
Stanza 3: unison, with descant by John Ferguson

Postlude: "Grand Choeur Dialogué," Eugène Gigout

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