The Carols of Christmas
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Christmas Eve Service
Thursday, December 24, 2015 (5:30 p.m.)
Children & Choir Sing:
“O Come, Little Children/Gesu Bambino” Arr. Joel Raney
The Carols of Christmas
[Grades 7-8] Psalm 98 – “Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him. He has revealed His righteousness to all nations. He has remembered His love and His faithfulness. Sing for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Praise Him with songs and shouts of joy!
We pray: Heavenly Father, we join with all Your saints and angels in heaven and earth in celebrating the birth of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. As we this night hear again the Christmas Story retold in joyous songs, fill our hearts with wonder at this gift of a Savior. Bless all of us who share the joyful news of Jesus’ birth. Hear our prayers and accept our praise in the name of the ChristChild of Bethlehem.
When did you first see Christmas decorations and hear Christmas carols in stores? Was it earlier this Fall? While many do not know the real “reason for the season” and are content to simply have a happy holiday, we know why the Christmas season is so important and why we are here tonight – to celebrate the birthday of the One Who came down from heaven to rescue us from our sin-mess and misery.
One of the most wonderful ways of celebrating Christmas is to praise Him for His Christmas miracle and blessing. One of the most wonderful ways is through our Christmas carols and songs. Over the years, God’s people have penned many words and songs about the Christmas Story and Christmas message. Tonight we want to revisit both the background and message of some of the carols we have come to love and cherish.
Our first Christmas carol is called “The First Noel”. Noel is the Latin word for “birth” and is also a French word for “Christmas”. While the actual author is unknown, it has been a part of our Christmas celebration for many, many years. It reminds us of the Christmas Gospel coming first to the shepherds, then the wise men and then to us. All of them and all of us respond with hearts and voices of praise: “Born is the King of Israel.”
Congregation sings “The First Noel” (V 1 & 5)
On this happy Christmas Eve, praise to God, our Father –
For your Gift, our Savior dear, Happy Birthday Jesus!
Angels came to tell the news To the lowly shepherds –
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!” Happy Birthday, Jesus!
We’re so happy You were born, our best friend and Savior –
Praise and thanks we give to You – Happy Birthday, Jesus!
Our next carol is our favorite and takes us right to the
Christmas manger bed of Jesus:
[Grades 3-4] Our next beloved carol is “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” Powerful and moving! The music was written by Felix Mendelsohn and the words by a preacher named Charles Wesley. It reminds us this Baby Jesus is also Christ the everlasting Lord, that He has brought us spiritual peace with God, and that we are to join with the angels in heaven in singing: “Glory to the newborn King!”
[Grades 5-6] Our next Christmas carol is among the most popular – “Joy to the World.” Written by Isaac Watts, a great English hymn writer, this carol is based on Psalm 98. Both the Psalm and this carol fit wonderfully for either Christmas or Easter or any occasion of Christian joy.
There are no shepherds in this song, no manger, no angels, no wise men. The Christmas Story is not in this carol, but all the great truths of Christmas are. We can’t really celebrate Christmas apart from all the other great truths of the Christian faith.
In this carol we sing about Jesus’ coming to earth, about the curse of sin being taken away, about being blessed with God’s forgiveness and the wonders of His love, about Jesus still coming to us with His truth and grace in His Word, about the joy this brings to our hearts.
Please note that this Christian and Christmas joy in Jesus is meant for all the world – for every human being who has ever lived, for every time, and age and race and people. “God our Savior desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
The melody for this hymn was written by the famous English composer, George Frederick Handel. He is best known for putting the story of Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection to music in the famous oratorio, the Messiah. Some of this carol seems to resemble the powerful music of the “Hallelujah Chorus”.
The most often used word in this wonderful carol is the word “joy.” In a world that is filled with so much sin and sorrow and sadness, God’s people find true and real joy in their Savior, Who came for them. May we find room and prepare a room in our hearts for our Savior as we children now sing “A Celebration Christmas Medley.”
All Children Sing: “A Celebration Medley”
Christmas Eve Offering
Song by Choir – “Winter’s Snow” by Peter Niedmann / Edward Caswall
Children Grades 3-8 Recite Luke 2: 1-20 (Christmas Story)
And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria. And all went to be taxed, everyone into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, 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 first-born Son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
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 Savior, 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. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
Grades 3-8 Sing: “Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground)” by Tomlin & Cash
[Grades 7-8] Yes, the Infant ChristChild had come as the world’s Savior. He would shed His blood and give His life for the sins of the world. Our final Christmas carol might be the most beloved. Originally written in German, “Stille Nacht” or “Silent Night” has been translated into languages all over the world. A German pastor wrote the words and his church musician wrote the tune, originally sung with a guitar accompaniment.
“Silent Night” is a quiet, simple and beautiful carol. Its mood reminds us of the ways Mary celebrated Christmas: “And she kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Even though she was deeply involved in the events of Christmas, most important to her and to us was the spiritual and eternal significance of all that was happening. May our hearts also meditate on God’s great Christmas love for us.
It was a quiet and silent night in the fields outside Bethlehem until the routine of the shepherds was interrupted by the glory of the heavenly hosts singing Alleluias. It was also a quiet night in the little town of Bethlehem as the most important event in our world’s history, the birth of our Savior, went virtually unnoticed.
“Silent Night” reminds us of the great Christmas Truths: Although Jesus was born a human baby, He was also the very Son of God and Light of the world. Although a seeming helpless infant, tender and mild, He was also the Lord of all. His coming to earth brought the dawn of redeeming grace to all. “Though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, so that we through His poverty might become rich.”
It is interesting to examine the Bible verses on which this Christmas carol is based. Luke 2 is mentioned as is Colossians 1:13: “For God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son he loves, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Christmas brings down from heaven life’s greatest gifts – forgiveness, peace, comfort, joy and hope.
Jesus came for you, lived for you, died for you, rose again for you and will come again to take us to our eternal Christmas home. May we this Christmas praise and celebrate the birth of our Savior, as we also eagerly await an eternal Christmas in heaven. We will now sing “Silent Night” in German and then we ask you to join us in singing the three beloved English verses.