A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols 1998

Order of Service

Organ music before the service

Processional Hymn: Once in Royal David's City (desc. Cleobury)
Bidding: Dean of King's College, the Rev Dr George Pattison
Up Good Christen folk, and listen (arr. G R Woodward)

Lesson 1: Genesis 3, vv 8-15, 17-19 (A Chorister)
This is the truth (arr. Vaughan Williams)
Adam lay ybounden (Boris Ord)

Lesson 2: Genesis 22, vv 15-18 (A Choral Scholar)
Sussex Carol (arr. Philip Ledger)
In dulci jubilo (H.Praetorius)

Lesson 3: Isaiah 9, vv 2, 6, 7 (A member of staff)
Noël nouvelet arr. Stephen Jackson
Congregational hymn: It came upon the midnight clear (arr. Sullivan)

Lesson 4: Isaiah 11, vv 1-3a, 4a, 6-9 (A representative of the City of Cambridge)
A spotless rose (Herbert Howells)
Riu, riu, riu (Mattheo Flecha the elder)

Lesson 5: Luke 1, vv 26-35, 38 (The Director of Music)
Bogoroditse Dyevo (Rachmaninoff)
Joys Seven (arr. Stephen Cleobury)

Lesson 6: Luke 2, vv 1, 3-7 (A representative of Cambridge Churches)
Away in a manger (arr. Willcocks)
Winter Solstice Carol (Giles Swayne)

Lesson 7: Luke 2, vv 8-16 (A Fellow of King's College)
In the Bleak Midwinter (Harold Darke)
Congregational hymn: God rest ye merry gentlemen (arr. Willcocks)

Lesson 8: Matthew 2, vv 1-12 (The Vice-Provost)
Coventry Carol (Medieval)
Personent hodie (arr. Holst)

Lesson 9: John 1, vv 1-14 (The Provost)
Congregational hymn: O Come All Ye Faithful (desc. Cleobury)

Collect for Christmas Eve and Blessing
Congregational hymn: Hark! the Herald Angels Sing (desc. Cleobury)

Organ voluntaries:

In Dulci Jubilo BWV 729 (J S Bach)
Finale from Symphonie VI in B minor (Louis Vierne)

Director of Music: Stephen Cleobury
Organ Scholar: Benjamin Bayl

Full service booklet

Organ music before the service

Puer natus est nobis Olivier Messiaen
    ('Livre du Saint Sacrament')

Canonic Variations on 'Vom Himmel hoch, da komm' ich her', BWV 769 J.S. Bach

Variations sur un vieux Nöel Op. 20 Marcel Dupre

Les Anges Olivier Messiaen
    ('La Nativité du Seigneur')

In Dulci Jubilo BWV 608 J.S. Bach

Les Mages Olivier Messiaen
    ('La Nativité du Seigneur')

In Dulci Jubilo BuxWV 197 Dietrich Buxtehude

Desseins eternels Olivier Messiaen
    ('La Nativité du Seigneur')

Processional Hymn

The congregation in the Choir stands at the same time as the congregation in the Ante-chapel, so that all may be silent when the hymn starts. All join in singing the last two verses of the hymn.

Once in royal David's city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her baby
In a manger for his bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little child.

He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And his shelter was a stable,
And his cradle was a stall;
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Saviour holy.

And through all his wondrous childhood
He would honour and obey,
Love, and watch the lowly maiden,
In whose gentle arms he lay;
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as he.

For he is our childhood's pattern,
Day by day like us he grew,
He was little, weak, and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us he knew;
And he feeleth for our sadness,
And he shareth in our gladness.

And our eyes at last shall see him,
Through his own redeeming love,
For that child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above;
And he leads his children on
To the place where he is gone.

Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see him; but in heaven,
Set at God's right hand on high;
When like stars his children crowned
All in white shall wait around.

Words: C. F. Alexander
Melody: H. J. Gauntlett
Harmonized: A. H. Mann
Descant: Stephen Cleobury
Encore Publications

Bidding Prayer

Then, all standing, this bidding prayer is said.

Belovèd in Christ, be it this Christmas Eve our care and delight to prepare ourselves to hear again the message of the angels: in heart and mind to go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass, and with the shepherds and the wise men adore the Child lying in his Mother's arms.

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; and in company with the whole Church let us make this chapel, dedicated to his pure and lowly Mother, glad with our carols of praise:

But first let us pray for the needs of his whole world; for peace and goodwill over all the earth; within the dominions of our sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth, within this University and City of Cambridge, and in the two royal and religious Foundations of King Henry VI here and at Eton:

And let us at this time remember in his name the poor and the helpless, the cold, the hungry and the oppressed; the sick in body and in mind and them that mourn; the lonely and the unloved; the aged and the little children; and all who know not the loving kindness of the Lord.

Let us also remember before God all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore and in a greater light, that multitude which none can number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh: and let us pray that we may be counted among that communion of saints, receiving grace to offer unto God reasonable service, living in unity and fellowship with all his people and giving reverence to all that he hath made.

These prayers and praises let us humbly offer up to the throne of heaven, in the words which Christ himself hath taught us:

Our Father...

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name,
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us;
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil. Amen.

The Almighty God bless us with his grace: Christ give us the joys of everlasting life: and unto the fellowship of the citizens above may the King of Angels bring us all. Amen.

The congregation sits.


Ding-dong, ding:
Ding-dong, ding-dong:

Up! good Christen folk, and listen
How the merry church bells ring,
And from steeple
Bid good people
Come adore the new-born King:

Tell the story how from glory
God came down at Christmastide,
Bringing gladness,
Chasing sadness,
Show'ring blessings far and wide.

Born of mother, blest o'er other,
Ex Maria Virgine,
In a stable
('tis no fable),
Christus natus hodie.

Words: G. R. Woodward
Tune from Piae Cantiones
Harmonized: G. R. Woodward
Oxford University Press

First Lesson

Reader: A chorister

God tells sinful Adam that he has lost the life of Paradise and that his seed will 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. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Thanks be to God


This is the truth sent from above
this is the truth sent from above,
The truth of God, the God of love;
Therefore don't turn me from your door,
But hearken all both rich and poor.

The first thing which I do relate
Is that God did man create;
The next thing which to you I'll tell:
Woman was made with man to dwell.

Then after this 'twas God's own choice
To place them both in Paradise,
There to remain from evil free,
Except they ate of such a tree.

And they did eat, which was a sin,
And thus their ruin did begin;
Ruined themselves, both you and me,
And all of their posterity.

Thus we were heirs to endless woes,
Till God the Lord did interpose,
And so a promise soon did run
That he would redeem us by his Son.

Herefordshire Carol
Music: arr. Vaughan Williams
Stainer & Bell


Adam lay ybounden,
    Bounden in a bond;
Four thousand winter
    Thought he not too long.

And all was for an apple,
    An apple that he took,
As clerkès finden
    Written in their book.

Ne had the apple taken been,
    The apple taken been,
Ne had never our lady
    Abeen heavenè queen.

Blessèd be the time
    That apple taken was,
Therefore we moun singen,
    Deo gracias!

Words: XV Century
Music: Boris Ord
Oxford University Press

Second Lesson

Reader: A choral scholar

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.

Thanks be to God


On Christmas night all Christians sing,
To hear the news the angels bring -
News of great joy, news of great mirth,
News of our merciful King's birth.

Then why should men on earth be so sad,
Since our Redeemer made us glad,
When from our sin he set us free,
All for to gain our liberty?

When sin departs before his grace,
Then life and health come in its place;
Angels and men with joy may sing,
All for to see the new-born King.

All out of darkness we have light,
Which made the angels sing this night:
'Glory to God and peace to men,
Now and for evermore. Amen.'

Sussex Carol
English Traditional
Music: arr. Philip Ledger
Oxford University Press


In dulci jubilo,
nun singet und seid froh!
Unsers Herzens Wonne liegt
in praesepio,
und leuchtet als die Sonne
matris in gremio.
Alpha es et O!

O Jesu parvule,
nach dir est mir so weh.
Tröst mir mein Gemüthe,
O Puer optime;
durch alle deine Güthe,
O Princeps Gloriae,
Trahe me post te!

O Patris caritas!
O Nati lenitas!
Wir wern all verhlohren
per nostra crimina;
so hat er uns erworben
caelorum gaudia;
Eya, wern wir da!

Ubi sunt gaudia?
Nirgend mehr denn da,
da die Engel singen
nova cantica, New songs,
und die Schellen klingen
in Regis curia;
Eya, wern wir da!

In sweet joy,
Now sing and be glad!
Our heart's delight lies
In the manger,
And shines like the sun
In the mother's lap.
Thou art Alpha and Omega!

O Jesus, little one,
My heart is sore for thee.
Console my spirit,
O Child so good;
Through all thy goodness,
O Prince of glory,
Lead me after thee!

O Father's goodness!
O new-born gentleness!
We would all be lost
Through our sins;
But He has gained for us
The joys of heaven:
O that we were there!

Where are these joys?
Nowhere but there,
Where the angels sing
And bells ring
In the court of the King;
O that we were there!

Words: XVI Century German Traditional
Music: Hieronymus Praetorius
Mapa Mundi

Third Lesson

Reader: A member of staff

The prophet foretells the coming of the Saviour.

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. 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.

Thanks be to God


Nöel nouvelet, Nöel chantons ici.
Dévotes gens, crions à Dieu merci!
Chantons Nöel pour le roi nouvelet.
Nöel nouvelet, Nöel chantons ici.

L'ange disait: 'Pasteurs, partez d'ici,
L'âme en repos et le coeur réjoui;
En Bethléem trouverez l'agnelet.'
Nöel nouvelet, Nöel chantons ici.

En Bethléem, étant tous réunis,
Trouvent l'enfant, Joseph, Marie aussi.
La crèche était au lieu d'un bercelet,
Nöel nouvelet, Nöel chantons ici.

Bientôt les rois, par l'étoile éclaircis,
De l'Orient dont ils étaient sortis,
A Bethléem vinrent un matinet.
Nöel nouvelet, Nöel chantons ici.

Voici mon Dieu, mon Sauveur Jésus Christ,
Par qui sera le prodige accompli
De nous sauver par son sang vermeillet!
Nöel nouvelet, Nöel chantons ici.

Nowelling anew, this carol let us sing.
To all who pray may God His Mercy bring!
Sing we Nowel for our King newly-born.
Nowelling anew, this carol let us sing.

God's angel spoke: 'You shepherds, go and sing,
In joy and peace your heart and soul to bring
To Bethlehem, where God's own Lamb is born.'
Nowelling anew, this carol let us sing.

At Bethlehem, where all were gathering,
They stood around his manger worshipping,
And found the Babe of God and Mary born.
Nowelling anew, this carol let us sing.

Right soon the Kings, by starlight entering,
Came from the East to make their offering,
Reached Bethlehem one early winter's morn.
Nowelling anew, this carol let us sing.

Here lies my Lord, my Saviour Christ the King,
His promise now to us accomplishing,
With his red blood to save us he was born!
Nowelling anew, this carol let us sing.

French traditional
Trans. Gerald Peacocke
Music: arr. Stephen Jackson


Sung by all, standing.

It came upon the midnight clear,
    That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
    To touch their harps of gold:
'Peace on the earth, good-will to men,
    From heaven's all gracious King!'
The world in solemn stillness lay
    To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come,
    With peaceful wings unfurled;
And still their heavenly music floats
    O'er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains
    They bend on hovering wing;
And ever o'er its Babel sounds
    The bless`ed angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
    The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
    Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
    The love-song which they bring:
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
    And hear the angels sing!

For lo! the days are hastening on,
    By prophet bards foretold,
When, with the ever-circling years,
    Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
    Its ancient splendours fling,
And the whole world give back the song
    Which now the angels sing.

Words: Edmund Sears
Music: English traditional melody
arr. Arthur Sullivan
Oxford University Press

Fourth Lesson

Reader: A representative of the city

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


A spotless Rose is blowing,
    Sprung from a tender root,
Of ancient seers' foreshowing,
    Of Jesse promised fruit;
Its fairest bud unfolds to light
    Amid the cold, cold winter,
And in the dark midnight.

The Rose which I am singing,
    Whereof Isaiah said,
Is from its sweet root springing
    In Mary, purest Maid;
For, through our God's great love and might,
    The bless`ed Babe she bare us
In a cold, cold winter's night.

Words: XV Century German
Trans: Catherine Winkworth
Music: Herbert Howells
Stainer & Bell


Riu, riu, chiu,
La guarda ribera:
Dios guardo el lobo
De nuestra cordera.

El lobo rabioso
La quiso morder,
Mas Dios poderoso
La supo defender;
Quisole hazer que
No pudiesse pecar,
Ni aun original
Esta Virgen no tuviera.

Este ques naçido
Es el gran Monarcha,
Christo patriarca
De carne vestido;
Hanos redimido
Con se hazer chiquito:
Aunque era infinito
Finito se hiziera.

Riu, riu, chiu, the guard [shepherd] by the river: God protected our Ewe from the wolf.

The furious wolf tried to bite her, but almighty God protected her well: He made her in such a way that she could know no sin, a virgin unstained by our first father's [Adam's] fault.

This new-born Child is a mighty monarch, the patriarchal Christ clothed in flesh; He redeemed us by making himself tiny: He who was infinite became finite.

Muchas profeçias
Lohan profetizado;
Y aun en nuestros dias
Lo hemos alcançado.
A Dios humanado
Vemos en el suelo
Y al hombre en el çielo
Porque el le quisiera.

Many prophecies foretold His coming, and now in our time we have seen them fulfilled. God became man, we see Him on earth, and we see man in heaven because He [God] loved Him.

From Villancicos de Diversos Autores, Venice, 1556
Trans. Hugh Keyte and Andrew Parrott,
after Robert Pring-Mill
Music: attrib. Mateo Flecha the Elder
Oxford University Press

Fifth Lesson

Reader: The director of music

The angel Gabriel salutes the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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


Bogoroditse Dyevo

Rejoice, O virgin Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Saviour of our souls.

Words from the Orthodox Liturgy
Music: Rachmaninoff


The first good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of one;
To see the blessèd Jesus Christ
When he was first her son:
When he was first her son, good man;
And blessèd may he be,
Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
To all eternity.

The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of two;
To see her own son, Jesus Christ,
To make the lame to go:
To make the lame to go, good man:

The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of three;
To see her own son, Jesus Christ,
To make the blind to see:
To make the blind to see, good man:

The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of four;
To see her own son, Jesus Christ,
To read the Bible o'er:
To read the Bible o'er, good man:

The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of five;
To see her own son, Jesus Christ,
To bring the dead alive:
To bring the dead alive, good man:

The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of six;
To see her own son, Jesus Christ,
Upon the crucifix:
Upon the crucifix, good man:

The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of seven;
To see her own son, Jesus Christ,
To wear the crown of heaven:
To wear the crown of heaven, good man:

Music: arr. Stephen Cleobury
Oxford University Press

Sixth Lesson

Reader: A representative of Cambridge churches

St Luke tells of the birth of Jesus.

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar 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 Judæa, 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


Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head;
The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus! Look down from the sky,
And stay by my side until morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
Close by me for ever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven, to live with thee there.

Words: XIX Century
Music: W. J. Kirkpatrick
Arr. David Willcocks
Oxford University Press


Now, at the dead end of the year,
The nights are long, the days are cold;
We cry for help, but who will hear?
The sky is dumb: our gods are tired and old.

    Hodie Christus natus est:
    Hodie Salvator apparuit...

Our world spins round its dying star,
Poisoned by folly, fear, and greed;
And in our darkest hour of need
We dream sweet dreams of rescue from afar.

    Hodie in terra canunt Angeli,
    Laetantur Archangeli...

But now the old year is reborn:
The withered tree springs new and green.
A baby's laughter greets the dawn:
Today love's oldest miracle is seen.

    Hodie exsultant justi...
    Gloria in excelsis Deo,

Winter Solstice Carol
English words and music: Giles Swayne
Latin words: Magnificat antiphon for Christmas Day

This carol has been commissioned by the College for today's service

Seventh Lesson

Reader: A Fellow

The shepherds go to the manger.

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.

Thanks be to God


In the bleak mid-winter
    Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
    Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
    Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter,
    Long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold him,
    Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
    When he comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
    A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty
    Jesus Christ.

Enough for him, whom Cherubim
    Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
    And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for him, whom angels
    Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
    Which adore.

What can I give him,
    Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
    I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man
    I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give him -
    Give my heart.

Words: Christina Rossetti
Music: Harold Darke
Stainer & Bell


Sung by all, standing.

God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
For Jesus Christ our Saviour
Was born upon this day,
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray:
O tidings of comfort and joy.

From God our heavenly Father
A blessèd angel came,
And unto certain shepherds
Brought tidings of the same,
How that inBethlehem was born:
The Son of God by name:

O tidings of comfort and joy.

The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoicèd much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding
In tempest, storm, and wind,
And went to Bethlehem straightway
This blessèd Babe to find:
O tidings of comfort and joy.

But when to Bethlehem they came,
Whereat this infant lay,
They found him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay;
His mother Mary kneeling
Unto the Lord did pray:

O tidings of comfort and joy.

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All others doth deface:
O tidings of comfort and joy.

English traditional
Music: arr. David Willcocks
Oxford University Press

Eighth Lesson

Reader: The Vice-Provost

The wise men are led by the star to Jesus.

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa 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 Judæa: 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


Lully, lulla, thow littel tyne child,
By, by, lully, lulla, thou littel tyne child,
By, by, lully, lullay.

O sisters too,
How may we do
For to preserve this day
This pore yongling
For whom we do sing:
'By, by, lully, lullay'?

Herod the King
In his raging
Chargid he hath this day
His men of might
In his owne sight,
All yonge children to slay.

That wo is me,
Pore child, for thee,
And ever morne and say
For thi parting
Nether say nor singe:
'By, by, lully, lullay'.

Coventry Carol
From the pageant of the shearmen and tailors, 1591
Music: XVI Century
Oxford University Press


1. Personent hodie
Voces puerulae,
Laudantes iucunde
Qui nobis est natus,
Summo Deo datus,
Et de virgineo
Ventre procreatus.

2. In mundo nascitur;
Pannis involvitur;
Praesepi ponitur
Stabulo brutorum
Rector supernorum;
Perdidit spolia
Princeps Infernorum.

3. Magi tres venerunt;
Munera offerunt;
Parvulum inquirunt,
Stellulam sequendo,
Ipsum adorando,
Aurum, thus et myrrham
Ei offerendo.

4. Omnes clericuli,
Pariter pueri,
Cantent ut angeli:
'Advenisti mundo:
Laudes tibi fundo
Ideo: Gloria
In excelsis Deo'.

Today let the voices of children resound in joyful praise of Him who is born for us, given by God on high and brought forth from a virgin's womb.

He is born upon earth and is wrapped in swaddling clothes: in a manger is he placed, the Ruler of Heaven in a stable of beasts. The Prince of Hell hath lost his spoils.

Three kings have come bringing gifts: they search out the little one by following the star. They worship him and give him gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Let all priests and with them the children sing with the angels: 'Thou hast come down to earth; we therefore pour forth our praise to thee. Gloria to God in the highest'.

Words: Piae Cantiones, 1582
Trans. Aidan Oliver
Music: arr. Gustav Holst
Oxford University Press

Ninth Lesson

Reader: The Provost

St John unfolds the mystery of the Incarnation.

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


Sung by all, standing. In verses 1 and 2 the first two lines of the refrain should be sung by upper voices only.

O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him,
Born the King of Angels.

    O come, let us adore him,
    O come, let us adore him,
    O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

God of God,
Light of Light,
Lo! he abhors not the Virgin's womb;
Very God,
Begotten, not created.

Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above;
'Glory to God
In the highest'.

Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
Born this happy morning,
Jesu, to thee be glory given;
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing:

Adeste Fideles
Translation: F. Oakeley
Melody: J. F. Wade
Descant: Stephen Cleobury
Encore Publications

Prayer & Blessing

All remain standing.

Minister: The Lord be with you

People: And with thy spirit.

Minister:Let us pray.

O God, who makest us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of thy 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.

All: Amen

Minister:May he who by his Incarnation gathered into one things earthly and heavenly, grant you the fullness of inward peace and goodwill; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be amongst you and remain with you always.

All: Amen


Sung by all.

Hark! the herald angels sing:
'Glory to the new-born King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!'
Joyful, all ye nations rise!
Join the triumph of the skies!
With the angelic host proclaim:
'Christ is born in Bethlehem!'
    Hark! the herald angels sing:
    'Glory to the new-born King!'

Christ, by highest heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord:
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of a Virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see!
Hail the incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with man to dwell:
Jesus, our Emmanuel!

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
    Hark! the herald angels sing:
    'Glory to the new-born King!'

Words: C. Wesley and G. Whitefield
Music: J.L.F. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Descant: Stephen Cleobury
Encore Publications

Organ music after the service:

In dulci jubilo BWV 729 J.S. Bach

Toccata (from 'Suite' Op. 5) Maurice Duruflé

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