The Gift of Joy - Isaiah 12

A service plan in an Advent series for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day focused on our joy in Christ's coming and our call to proclaim this joy to the world.

The Gifts of Christmas

Theme of the Service

The theme of this service is joy. The prophets spoke of anticipated joy when the day of fulfillment would come. The angels spoke of joy when Christ was born. The church is called to proclaim the joy to the world. Christians have always recognized joy as the central mark of the Christmas season, though we must be careful to define such joy in Christian terms.

This service is designed so that it can be useful, with adaptations, for either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and, if desired, as a candlelight service.

* * *

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy.."
Luke 2:10

WE GATHER IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD

Prelude: Various carols [see <href="#music" >music notes]

The Call to Worship
Let us go, in heart and mind, to see what has come to pass.
Let us go with the shepherds:
Let us go to find the Savior!
Let us go with the wise ones:
Let us go to find God's promise, born for us!
Let us go with the poor and humble:
Let us go to find our King, born in a lowly manger.
Let us go with all the world, with all the peoples of the nations.
Come, let us worship; come, let us adore him:
Christ the Lord!

Processional: "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" PH 5, PsH 341, RL 188, RN 229, TH 193, TWC 167, UMH 626
st.1-2: choir
*organ interlude
*st . 3-4: all

or

*Processional Hymn: "O Come, All Ye Faithful" PH 41, PsH 340, RL 195, TH 208, TWC 173, UMH 234

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting
Congregation of Jesus Christ, in whom are you trusting?
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Amen!

Offertory: "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" or "O Come, All Ye Faithful" [see <href="#music" >music notes]


WE WELCOME CHRIST'S COMING

A Reading from Isaiah 9:6-7

*A Reading from Luke 2:1-7

*Song: "Gloria, Gloria" SNC 115, SFL 134

Lighting Four Candles and the Christ Candle

Sung Prayer: "O Little Town of Bethlehem " (st. 4) PH 43, 44, RL 193, 194, TH 201, 202, TWC 154, 155, UMH 230
O holy Child of Bethlehem! Descend to us, we pray;
cast out our sin, and enter in: be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord, Emmanuel.


WE ANTICIPATE THE JOY

Anthem: "Prepare Ye," Robinson [see <href="#music" >music notes]
or "Prepare the Way" RN 92, SNC 105, SFL 124

The Prayer for Illumination
O Lord,
even as you entered this world with your Son for our salvation,
now enter our hearts and minds with your Spirit
that we may hear and understand your word of joy.
In the name of Jesus Christ our Redeemer, Amen.

The Reading of Isaiah 12:1-6
The Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God!

Message
“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation" (Isaiah 12:3)

Prayer

Anthem: "Dance and Sing, for the Lord Will Be with Us," arr. Hopson [see <href="#music" >music notes]

Song: "Hark, the Glad Sound! The Savior Comes" (st. 1-4) PsH 335


WE CELEBRATE THE JOY

The Reading of Luke 2:8-20
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Message
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy.." (Luke 2:10)

Prayer

*Song: "Joy to the World! The Lord Is Come" (st. 1, 2, 4) PH 40, PsH 337, RL 198, SFL 137, TH 195, TWC 146, UMH 246

Anthem: "Shepherds, Shake Off Your Drowsy Sleep," MacDonald
or "Angels' Carol," Rutter

Song: "While by the Sheep We Watched" TWC 166 (choir will sing the "echo")
or "Angels We Have Heard on High" PsH 347 [see <href="#music" >music notes]


WE PROCLAIM THE JOY

The Reading of Isaiah 40:9-11
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Anthem: "Climb to the Top of the Highest Mountain," Jennings [see <href="#music" >music notes]

Message
“Lift up your voice with a shout. say. ‘Here is your God!' " (Isaiah 40:9)

Prayer

Anthem: "Alleluia," Manuel [see <href="#music" >music notes]
or
Hymn: "Go, Tell It on the Mountain" PH 29, PsH 356, RL 224, SFL 131, TH 224, TWC 151, UMH 251

Passing the Light of Christ

Song: "O Holy Night" TWC 160
or "Meekness and Majesty/This Is Your God" RN158, SNC109

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Song: "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" (st. 1-3) PH 31/32, PsH 345, RL 196, TH 203, TWC 171, UMH 240[see <href="#music" >music notes]

Postlude: "Toccata from the 5th Organ Symphony," Widor [see <href="#music" >music notes]

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

  1. This sermon takes the form of three short meditations that are held together by the common theme of joy. The spirit of each part of the service is slightly different. The text for each meditation is printed in the worship sheet at the place of the meditation. While the three meditations are separate, they have both a common theme and consistent progression among them. From the anticipation of joy, to the announcement of joy, we move to our proclamation of the joy to others.
  2. In the first message it is necessary to clarify the definition of joy as it is found in this worship service. Joy is not merely the squeals of delight by children when they open gifts, but a deep and solid confidence that is built on grace. Gracious God has sent his Son; we are his children and part of his plan. Knowing this is joy! Isaiah spoke to the Hebrews about the anticipation of this joy. In days of apostasy and the warning of judgment there is the promise that grace will enter, restoration will take place, and once again (in the future) they will know the joy of God's grace.
  3. In the second passage, the message of the angels reminds us that joy must have depth (an awareness of God's graciousness) and excitement (which is expressed through celebration). The angels who received the privileged assignment to bring this message surely experienced the excitement. The shepherds, after first being stunned, celebrated it with amazement. Mary and Joseph surely must have done the same, though little is said about that. We must ask about our celebration of it. How do we celebrate? Are we celebrating the right thing?
  4. In the third message the picture is completed by noting that joy which is experienced must be joy that is proclaimed to others. So we return to Isaiah again and see how Israel is called to proclaim the joyful message to others. The message of the New Testament throughout calls us to proclaim the joy of God's grace in Christ to the world. Our celebration of Christmas is incomplete without a desire to proclaim the good news to others.

Music Notes:

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church,
Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great
Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice ( Augsburg Fortress)

As you work with the following suggestions please take note of variations that are offered. Throughout the service we have given choices between choral or congregational participation and choices between a couple of congregational songs at particular points in the liturgy. We have found that the spirit with which a congregation worships on Christmas Eve is quite different from a Christmas Morning service, and some of the suggestions have been given to reflect the difference in that spirit. We also know that every congregation has particular carols that carry much meaning and value, and we encourage you to incorporate those within your service. The hymns we have suggested are consistent with the flow of the themes through the service and are meant to "jump-start" your selection process. We realize that many churches may not be able to prepare the number of anthems suggested here and so we provide the option of congregational song in many places.

1. The music suggestions for the prelude and offertory are all based on traditional Christmas carols. Mix and match as your resources allow. Also notice the suggested alternative harmonizations for the hymns included in this service.

ADESTE FIDELES
Organ:

  • Burkhardt, Michael. Five Christmas Hymn Improvisations, set 3. Morningstar MSM-10-137 [1998] (E-M).
  • Callahan, Charles. A Christmas Suite. Morningstar MSM-10-109 [1990] (E-M).
  • Callahan, Charles. Partita on Adeste Fideles. Concordia 97-5992 [1988] (M).
  • Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 2. AMSI OR-3 [1981] (M).
  • Dupre, Marcel. Variations on Adeste Fideles (Smith). H.W. Grey GSTC 982 (D).
  • Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 1. SMP KK234 [1978] (E-M, could be adapted for piano).
  • Schaffner. Five Christmas Carols in Baroque Style. Concordia 97-6194 [1993] (M, could be adapted for piano).

Handbells:

  • Wagner, Douglas E. O Come, All Ye Faithful. Agape 1262 [1986] (3-5 octaves, M).

Alternative Harmonizations for Organ:

  • Ferguson, John. Festival Hymns, set 1. GIA.

ANTIOCH
Organ:

  • Behnke, John A. Five Familiar Carols for Christmas. Hope 1749 [1994] (E-M).
  • Burkhardt, Michael. Five Christmas Hymn Improvisations, set 3. Morningstar MSM-10-137 [1998] (E-M).
  • Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 3. AMSI OR-6 [1983] (E-M).
  • Ferguson, John. A Christmas Triptych, set 3. Morningstar MSM-10-141 [2000] (M).
  • Haan, Raymond H. Festival Hymn Preludes. SMP KK329 [1985] (M).
  • Haan, Raymond H. Five for Christmas. Morningstar MSM-10-139 [1999] (E-M).
  • Schaffner. Five Christmas Carols in Baroque Style. Concordia 97-6194 [1993] (M, could be adapted for piano).

Piano:

  • Carter, John. Carols for Piano. Hope 232 [1987] (E-M).
  • Carter, John. Still More Carols for Piano. Hope 8175 [2002] (E-M).

Handbells:

  • Dobrinski, Cynthia. Joy to the World. Agape 2156 [2000] (3-5 octaves with organ and opt. trumpet, brass tympani, level 3).
  • Sherman, Arnold B. Joy to the World. Concordia 97-6448 [1994] (3-6 octaves, D).

Alternative Harmonizations for Organ:

  • Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001].
  • Goode, Jack C. Thirty-four Changes on Hymn Tunes. H.W. Grey GB 644 [1978].
  • Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 2. Ludwig O-07 [1983].

JUNGST
Handbells:

  • Dobrinski, Cynthia. While By My Sheep. Agape 1345 [1988] (3-5 octaves with organ, M).

MENDELSSOHN
Organ:

  • Barr, John G. Meditation on I Wonder As I Wander and Prelude on Hark the Herald Angels Sing.H.W. Grey GSTC 01053 [1934] (E-M).
  • Hobby, Robert A. Three Christmas Preludes. Morningstar MSM-10-145 [2000] (E-M).
  • Schaffner. Five Christmas Carols in Baroque Style. Concordia 97-6194 [1993] (M, could be adapted for piano).

Handbells:

  • Dobrinski, Cynthia. Hark! the Herald Angels Sing. Agape 1654 [1993] (3-5 octaves, M).

Alternative Harmonizations for Organ:

  • Goode, Jack C. Thirty-four Changes on Hymn Tunes. H.W. Grey GB 644 [1978].
  • Johnson, David N. Free Harmonizations of Twelve Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-9190 [1964].

PICARDY
Organ:

  • Burkhardt, Michael. Four Hymn Improvisations for Holy Week. Morningstar MSM-10-318 [1995] (E-M).
  • Callahan, Charles. Five Improvisations on Communion Hymns. Concordia 97-6126 [1991] (E-M).
  • Kosche, Kenneth T. Four Organ Preludes for Advent. Morningstar MSM-10-020 [2004] (E-M).
  • Travis, Albert L. Prelude on Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence. Morningstar MSM-10-821 [1991] (M).
  • Warner, Richard. Organ Music for the Communion Service. Concordia 97-1395 [1956] (E-M).

Piano (either service music or alternative harmonization):

  • Carlson, J. Bert. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000] (M).

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:

  • Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001].

GLORIA
Organ:

  • Burkhardt, Michael. Five Christmas Hymn Improvisations. Morningstar MSM-10-111 [1991] (M).
  • Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 8. AMSI SP-105 [1991] (E-M).
  • Wold, Wayne L. God with Us. Augsburg 11-10975 [1999] (M).

Handbells :

  • Dobrinski, Cynthia. Angel Tidings. Agape 1215 [1985] (3-5 octaves, M).
  • Larson, Lloyd. Angels We Have Heard on High. Beckenhorst HB 210 [2001] (3-5 octaves, level 3).

Alternative Accompaniments:

  • Eggert, John. Creative Hymn Accompaniments for Organ, vol. 2. CPH97-6851 [2000].
  • Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 2. Ludwig O-07 [1983].
  • Goode, Jack C. Thirty-four Changes on Hymn Tunes. H.W. Grey GB 644 [1978].

GO TELL IT
Organ:

  • Held, Wilbur. Christmas Comes Again. Morningstar MSM-10-113 [1991] (E-M).
  • Manz, Paul. God of Grace. Morningstar MSM-10-599 [2004] (E).

Piano:

  • Carter, John. Carols for Piano. Hope 232 [1987].
  • Carter, John. Easy Hymns for 4 Hands. Hope 8146 [2002].

Alternative Accompaniments:

  • Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001].
  • Eggert, John. Creative Hymn Accompaniments for Organ, vol. 2. CPH97-6851 [2000].

2. The choral anthems as placed in the liturgy are as follows:

  • Robinson, Marc A. Prepare Ye. Kjos 8830 [1996] (SATB plus soloist, E-M).
  • Hopson, Hal H. Dance and Sing, for the Lord Will Be With Us. Choristers Guild CGA 749 [1998] (unison/two-part, E-M).
  • MacDonald, Robert. Shepherds, Shake Off Your Drowsy Sleep. SMP S-262 [1980] (SATB, M).
  • Rutter, John. Angels' Carol. Hinshaw HMC-1002 [1988] (SATB, M).
  • Jennings, Carolyn. Climb to the Top of the Highest Mountain. Kjos C8118 [1981] (SATB and unison children's choir, E-M).
  • Manuel, Ralph. Alleluia. Hinshaw HMC-927 (1987) (SATB, M-D).

3. The sung prayer can be sung to either ST. LOUIS or FOREST GREEN for the entirety of the Advent series.

4. The organ postlude "Toccata from the Fifth Organ Symphony" by Charles Marie Widor is published by Marks [1936] (D). Many of the suggestions for prelude and offertory could also be played as the postlude.

Liturgy Notes:

  1. Many variations can be made on this service to fit the purpose for which you intend it. It may be, with slight modifications, suitable for Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, whatever your practice. It is designed to be a candlelight service, but can be otherwise also. The inclusion of musical groups will need to be done according to what you have available.
  2. The call to worship comes from The Worship Sourcebook (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Faith Alive Christian Resources, Baker Books, 2004) Section E: Christmas, page 467.
  3. This service completes the candle lighting that began on the first Sunday of Advent. At this service all four outside candles are lit, and finally the Christ Candle (center) is lit.
  4. If you are planning a candle lighting service in which the light is passed on to others, either to the choirs or to all worshipers, this can take place near the close of the service. The pastor or a worship leader takes the light from the Christ Candle and passes it on to others. This may be done in silence, or during the choir anthem or other music. If the light is passed on to others, it is very important that all worshipers exercise great caution, that a lit candle is never to be tipped, that young children should be under the supervision of their parents, and that all candles are to be extinguished together for safety purposes. We usually printed such cautions on the worship sheet and also verbalized them in the service.

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