Posts Tagged 'Lessons and Carols'

For Dec. 15, 2013: A Service of Advent Lessons and Carols

First Reading            Genesis 2:4b-9, 15-25: God creates man and woman to live in obedience to God in the Garden of Eden.

Second Reading            Genesis 3:1-15: Adam and Eve rebel against God and are cast out of the Garden of Eden.

Third Reading            Isaiah 40:1-11: God comforts God’s people and calls on them to prepare for redemption.

Fourth Reading            Jeremiah 31:31-34: A new covenant is promised which will be written in our hearts

Fifth Reading            Zechariah 9:9-10: The humility of Jerusalem’s King is foretold.

Sixth Reading            Haggai 2:6-9: The Lord will restore the splendor of the house of David.

Seventh Reading            Isaiah 65:17-25: God promises a new heaven and a new earth.

Eighth Reading            Luke 1:26-38: The Angel Gabriel announces to the Virgin Mary that she will bear the Son of the Most High.

The Gospel            John 1:1-14: The Word was made flesh and we have seen his glory.

 

About the Service of Advent Lessons and Carols

The format of this Sunday’s service dates back to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols devised by Edward White Benson, then Bishop of Truro in southern England, for Christmas Eve 1880. In 1918, shortly after the fighting in World War I ended, this order of service was adapted for use at King’s College, Cambridge UK, by the Dean of the college chapel, Eric Milner-White. With the revisions that Milner-White made in 1919, this is the service that is broadcast every year by the BBC.

In 1934, Milner-White devised a similar service for Advent: its purpose, he said, was “not to celebrate Christmas”—as the Christmas Eve service does—“but to expect it.” It is in that spirit that we offer today’s lessons and carols.

The nine short lessons or readings are chosen to show the story of salvation unfolding. God’s creation of humanity in the first reading from Genesis is followed by the fall into disobedience in the second. The remaining readings, except for the last two, come from Israel’s dark time during and after the destruction of the Temple and the deportation to Babylon. Isaiah foresees comfort and return from exile for God’s people, in words that inspired much of the first part of Georg Friedrich Handel’s masterful Messiah; Jeremiah announces the new covenant, not between God and the whole people but between God and each human soul; Zechariah foresees a King who combines the power to end war with the humility to ride a donkey; Haggai foresees the restoration of the house of David and of the temple to which all people will come in worship; Isaiah returns to prophesy a world order of unimaginable peace and harmony under God. The eighth lesson is Luke’s account of the  invitation to Mary to become the mother of God and of her astonished but ultimately obedient response. The ninth lesson, from the beginning of the gospel of John, tells of Jesus as Word, God, Light—and, wonder of wonders, flesh like us.

“For the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together.” Thanks be to God!

For Jan. 1, 2011: Lessons and Carols

FIRST READING: Genesis 3:8-15, 17-19
Sinful humans lose the life of Paradise.
SECOND READING: Genesis 22:15-18
God promises that, in the offspring of Abraham, all peoples shall be blessed.
THIRD READING: Isaiah 9:2, 6, 7
The prophet foretells the coming of the Savior.
FOURTH READING: Isaiah 11:1-9
The peace that Christ brings is foreshown.
FIFTH READING: Luke 1:26-35
The angel Gabriel salutes the Blessed Virgin Mary.
SIXTH READING: Luke 2:1-7
We hear of the birth of Jesus.
SEVENTH READING: Luke 2:8-16
The shepherds go to the manger.
EIGHTH READING: Matthew 2:1-11
Wise men seek the Child who has been born.
THE GOSPEL: John 1:1-14
Jesus, the Light of the World.

The format of the Service of Lessons and Carols dates back to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols devised by Edward White Benson, then Bishop of Truro in southern England, for Christmas Eve 1880. In 1918, shortly after the fighting in World War I ended, Bishop Benson’s order of service was adapted for use at King’s College, Cambridge, in southeastern England, by the Dean of the college chapel, Eric Milner-White. The order of service at King’s College is essentially unchanged since 1919, opening with “Once in Royal David’s City” (the first verse sung solo by a boy chorister), and ends with “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” This order with the readings set forth by the Church of England is the basis of the service we will use at St Alban’s, though some of the prayers and lessons are adapted from the originals to correspond more closely with the language of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible that is in use in the Episcopal Church.
The nine short lessons or readings were chosen to show the story of salvation unfolding, beginning with the fall of humanity and the promise to Abraham, then proceeding through prophecies of Isaiah to the annunciation and birth of Jesus, and concluding with the opening words of the Gospel of John that sketch out who and what Jesus is.
This service is appropriate on January 1 because, this year, it is the only Sunday in Christmas season other than Christmas Day itself, and next Sunday, January 8, is the first Sunday in Epiphany season. In any case, what better way to begin the New Year than to sing praises to the Child who has been born for us, the Light that the darkness cannot overcome?


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