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Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming

This service of Lessons and Carols from 1997 depicts the contrast between death and life, despair and hope, in order to see a glimpse of the glory of God.

From despair emerges hope. From darkness shines light. From a sinful people comes a sin-bearing Messiah. From a stump blossoms the Christmas Rose. 

Every reading, prayer, hymn, and carol in tonight's Festival of Lessons and Carols depicts the contrast between death and life, despair and hope. In a world of pain and death, may tonight's service give us a glimpse of the glory of God. 

Organ Voluntary: 

"How Brightly Shines the Morning Star," Mark Sedio
Prelude on "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent," Albert L. Travis

Processional Hymn: "Hark! A Thrilling Voice is Sounding"

Psalter Hymnal 332
Stanza 1: choir
Stanza 2: women and girls
Stanza 3: men of the choir and congregation
Stanza 4: all
Organ interlude
Stanza 5: all, unison


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

Bidding Prayer:

Pastor: Beloved in Christ, as we await the great celebration 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 Rose of Bethlehem. We rejoice, in carols and hymns, that the good purpose of God is being mightily fulfilled; and we celebrate the promise that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, ushers in a kingdom of power and glory forever.

"Tollite hostias," Camille Saint-Saens, from Oratorio de Noel, opus 12

Pastor: But first, we pray for the world which God so loves, for those who have not heard th good news of God, 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 freeed 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!

I. God announces that the seed of woman will bruise the serpent's head

Scripture: Genesis 3:8-15

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

"Comfort Ye, My People," George Frideric Handel, from Messiah

II. The Lord promises to raise up a righteous branch from the tree of David

Scripture: Jeremiah 23:1-6

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

"When God's Time Had Ripened," Al Fedak

III. The prophet compares the coming Messiah to the beauty of a blossoming flower

Scripture: Hosea 14

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

"A Rose Tree Blossoms," Alan Hovhaness

"Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming"

Psalter Hymnal 351
Stanza 1: choir
Stanzas 2-3: all

IV. The prophet foretells that the redeemed of the Lord shall sing and dance with joy

Scripture: Isaiah 35

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

"Followers of the Lamb," arr. Philip Dieterrich

V. The prophet announces that the grace of God will extend to all nations

Scripture: Isaiah 56:6-7, 60:1-7

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

Huron Carol: "Twas in the Moon of Wintertime," arr. Robert Hobby

VI. The prophet declares that the coming Messiah will bring full redemption to his people

Scripture: Isaiah 11 and 53

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

"Hark! the Herald Angels Sing" with "Ah, Holy Jesus"

Psalter Hymnal 345
Stanza 1: congregation, "Hark! the herald angels sing..."; choir: "Ah, holy Jesus, how have you offended..."
Stanza 2: congregation, "Christ, by highest heaven adored..."; choir: "For me, dear Jesus, was you incarnation..."
Stanza 3: congregation: "Hail the heavenborn Prince of Peace..."

Sermon: "The Birth with a Shadow"

Text: Luke 2:34-35

VII. Mary sings of the One who vanquishes the powers of hell

Scripture: Luke 1:39-56

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

"Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence"

Psalter Hymnal 341
Stanza 1: choir, in canon
Stanza 2; all, unison
Stanza 3: all, in canon, as directed, to portray the text "rank on rank..."
Organ interlude
Stanza 4-all, unison

VIII. Luke tells of the birth of Jesus

Scripture: Luke 2:1-8

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

"Still, Still Night," Jackson Berkey

IX. John unfolds the great mystery of the Incarnation

Scripture: John 1:1-14

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

"Splendor is Coming," Walter Pelz


Pastor: Almighty God,
you have given us a glimpse of glory
at the coming of the Rose of Bethlehem.
In Christ, you have filled us with hope
as we long for the coming kingdom of God,
a kingdom of power and glory forever,
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: With gratitude for this gift,
we humbly ask that you will send your Spirit to anoint us
so that we may bring good news to the oppressed,
bind up the brokenhearted,
proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners,
and comfort those who mourn.
Congregation: We pray this through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen!


Pastor: 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
Stanzas 1-2: harmony
Stanza 3: unison
Stanza 4: harmony, with descant

Organ Voluntary:  Partita on "O Come, All Ye Faithful," Charles Callahan