This Christmas Eve Cantata Communion Service was first
written in 1994. It was revised in 1996. Anthems can
be changed to match your musical sources. We attempt
to match Carols with the message of the various readings.
The narrator and readers were part of the choir itself.
PROCESSIONAL CAROL: It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
WORDS OF WELCOME:
L: The Lord be with you.
P: And also with you.
LIGHTING OF THE ADVENT CANDLES
L: We light the candles hope, peace, love, and joy this
Christmas Eve to remind us of God's gifts to us through
Jesus the Christ - the light of the world.
P: Jesus is the son of Mary and the son of God, one with us,
our Lord, our Saviour, our brother and our friend.
L: The Son of Mary brings us the hope of God.
P: He calls us to share this hope with others.
L: The Son of God brings us the peace of God.
P: He calls us to share this love with others
L: Christ our Saviour brings us the joy of God.
P: He calls us to share this joy with others.
P: He calls us to share this peace with others.
L: Jesus our Lord brings us the love of God.
L: We light the candles of hope, of peace, of joy, and of
love to remind us of the gifts that the light of the
world has brought us.
...(As the Advent Candles are lit all sing)...
Light the Christmas Candles now, sing of donkey, sheep, and cow,
Birthday candles for the king, let the alleliuahs ring
Filled with wonder at the sight, of the child on Christmas night.
Candle, candle, burning bright, shining in the cold winter night,
Candle, candle, burning bright, fill our hearts with Christmas light.
LIGHTING THE CHRIST CANDLE
L: We light the Christ candle to remind us that the light of
the world was born this night.
P: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
Those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness - on them a light
L: You, O Lord, have multiplied the nation. You have increased
P: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the
government shall be upon his shoulder.
L: His name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
P: He is also called Emmanuel, for in him God is with us.
L: Let us Pray
P: Most Loving Father, thank you for this night and for all it
represents. Thank you for the hope you bestow, the peace
you bring, the love you pour out, and the joy you give. We
praise you most of all for Jesus, your Word made flesh. May
he light our way as the holy star lit the way for the wise
LET'S GO TO BETHLEHEM
INTRODUCTION - Narrator
"Let's go to Bethlehem." That's what the shepherds said
after the angel came to them saying, "Do not be afraid; for
I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:
to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who
is the Messiah, the Lord."
"Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened,
which the Lord has told us." The shepherds listened to the
angel and went with haste to Bethlehem. There they found
Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger with the
animals standing around, their breath steaming in the cool
As the shepherds entered and knelt at the manger gazing with
awe at the baby and his parents they were at the end of a
long chain of people who had been watching and waiting for
this very thing to happen. For many, many years - all the
way back to the time of Adam and Eve - there were people
watching and waiting for God to fulfill His promises and
send His Son. Sometimes these people felt that God was very
far away but they also knew that God promised to come very
close some day - close enough to see and touch. Through the
long years of waiting people had heard God's promises and
believed them. Some of these people even talked with God
and became God's messengers, announcing again and again
God's great plan.
The shepherds, like most people in Israel, also waited and
watched for the coming of the Messiah. As they spent their
nights out on the lonely hills and fields surrounding
Bethlehem they looked upwards to the heavens wondering. So
it was that they saw the heavenly host and heard the angel
announce the good news.
Tonight we are going to take a trip to hear once again the
good news that fulfills God's promises and to discover
afresh and celebrate the meaning of Christmas. On the way
we will visit with just a few of the people who pointed the
way to Bethlehem many long years ago.
Keep in mind tonight as you watch and wait - all of the
people who have waited for Jesus' birth - all of the people
who form the chain to Bethlehem. And remember that you are
one of these people. Think, too, of all the family and
friends you have invited to come along as we go to Bethlehem
and see this thing that has happened, this thing which the
Lord has told us!"
CAROL: O Little Town of Bethlehem
ADAM AND EVE - Narrator
Throughout history many people have looked forward to Jesus'
coming. It all began with Adam and Eve who were once very
close to God, walking and talking together in the Garden
with Him in the cool of the evening. But after they broke
their promises they lost this closeness with God. Their
friendship with God had been damaged. Ever after Adam and
Eve yearned for this closeness again and spent many hours
thinking about when that might happen and what it would be
like to once again experience it.
READING OF Matthew 1:21-23 - Reader
ISAIAH - Narrator
Isaiah was that prophet. He had much to say about
Emmanuel's coning. "The people who have walked in darkness
have seen a great light... for unto us a child has been
born, unto us a son has been given."
CHOIR MEDLEY: "Emmanuel \ Jesus, Name Above All Names" - Choir
ABRAHAM AND SARAH, JACOB, AND DAVID - Narrator
Time passed. God chose a man named Abraham and called him
to go forth and lead his family to a new country. God
promised Abraham that he would bless him and make of him a
great nation and God kept his promise. Out of Abraham and
his wife Sarah came the people of Israel., God's own people.
And one day, centuries later, Jesus was born in the land of
Israel, the land of Abraham and Sarah.
Years after his death Abraham's grandson Jacob had a dream
in which he saw angels going up and down on a ladder - a
stairway reaching to heaven.. Jacob was promised that all
the families of the earth were to blessed in him and in his
offspring. Thus it was that his descendant Joseph heard in
a dream before Jesus was born, that this child was from the
Holy Spirit and was coming down from heaven to be born..
Many years later came David, God's chosen King. David was a
powerful earthly king. God promised David that someone from
his house, his family would one day be king forever. God
kept that promise to David when he sent Jesus - our king!
READING OF Luke 1:32-33, 68-73a - Reader
ANTHEM: "Alleluia, The King" - Choir
ZECHARIAH AND ELIZABETH - Narrator
One day the priest Zechariah was serving in the temple when
he was visited by an angel of the Lord who told him that he
and his wife Elizabeth were finally to become parents, that
Elizabeth would bear a son. They were to name him John and
he was "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
Zechariah was so afraid to believe that he lost his voice.
Elizabeth was overjoyed at this great gift. When he was
born Zechariah regained his voice and praised God.
READING OF Luke 1:67, 76-79 - Reader
THE ANGEL GABRIEL AND MARY - Narrator
God spoke to people through dreams and prophets and angels.
To announce the coming birth of his son Jesus he sent a
special angel messenger - Gabriel. who says of himself, "I
stand in the presence of God." Gabriel was sent by God to
Mary to tell her of God's plans for her life and for the
CAROL: The First Noel (verses 1,2,3,6)
READING OF Luke 1:26-32, 34-35, 38 - Reader
JOSEPH OBEYS GOD - Narrator
While Joseph and Mary were engaged but before they lived
together Joseph was startled to find that Mary was pregnant.
Distressed and disappointed, but nevertheless a righteous
and gentle man, Joseph planned to quietly break the
engagement and send Mary away. God had other plans.
READING OF Matthew 1:20-21, 24 - Reader
CAESAR AUGUSTUS AND THE CENSUS - Narrator
Far away, in the city of Rome, the emperor Caesar Augustus
called for a census of the whole Roman world thus playing a
part in God's plan to briing his son into the world. All
went to their own towns to be registered and counted.
JOSEPH AND MARY GO TO BETHLEHEM - Narrator
Joseph also went to his home town. He took Mary with him to
be registered in Bethlehem of Judea, the home of his
ancestor David. While they were there the time came for
Jesus to be born.
READING OF Luke 2:7 - Reader
CAROL: Away in A Manger
ANTHEM: Sweet Little Jesus Boy - Choir
READING OF Luke 2:8-12 - Reader
ANGELS AND SHEPHERDS - Narrator
Listen carefully.... And suddenly there was with the angel a
great multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and
saying, " Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth
peace, good will among those whom he favours!" Imagine the
excited conversation after the heavenly host departed. With
one mind the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go to
Bethlehem to see this thing that has happened."
CAROL: Hark The Herald Angels Sing
ANTHEM: Little Drummer Boy - Choir
WISE MEN - Narrator
Meanwhile far away in the East wise men scanned the skies
and found a very special star. They knew that this star
meant that something very important was happening, something
like the birth of a king. They decided to travel west to
find this king. When thy arrived in Jerusalem at Herod's
court they made inquiries and discovered that, indeed, a
king was to be born in Bethlehem of Judea according the
prophet. They left Herod and continued their journey and
ahead of them went the star until it stopped over the place
where the child was. When the star stopped they were
overwhelmed with joy.
Anthem: Little Drummer Boy - Choir
READING OF Matthew 2:1-2 - Reader
CAROL: We Three Kings - Song Book (put in bulletin)
THE GOOD NEWS OF BETHLEHEM - Narrator
The good news of great joy for all people - shepherd, wise
man, you and I - was born in Bethlehem. Tonight we once
again have travelled the road to Bethlehem, heard the
prophecies and their fulfillment; listened to angels,
treasured these things in our hearts and pondered on them
with Mary. Along with the shepherds and wise men we have
discovered Christmas in the birth at Bethlehem. Let us take
just one more peek, and like the shepherds make known what
has been told us about this child.
Down in a lowly manger
The humble Christ was born
God sent us salvation
That blessed Christmas morn
That Jesus Christ was born.
ANTHEM: Go, Tell It On The Mountain - Choir
CARING AND SHARING
SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS:
- The Offering is Received and Anthem: "Mary's Little Boy Child"
- The Doxology: We Give Thee But Thine Own (verse one) - Red 296
PRAYER OF DEDICATION AND A CHRISTMAS PRAYER (traditional - modified)
L: It was cold and Mary and Joseph were fearful.
P: But that did not stop the birth.
L: They were poor and had no place fitting for their child.
P: But that did not stop the birth.
L: They were uncertain about what God wanted from them.
P: But that did not stop the birth.
L: And today we are still sometimes cold and fearful, certainly
poor in many ways.
P: We often feel that we have no place and are unclear about
that God wants of us.
L: But these things did not stop the birth of Jesus then, nor
will they now.
P: Lord Jesus be born in us today.
L: Like Mary and Joseph, who trusted in your grace, we offer
ourselves and our gifts to you. Bless our offering and
hallow our every thought and our every action, that Christ
may be revealed through them to the world that is yet in
CAROL: O Come All Ye Faithful (verses 1,3,5) - Red 415
A CHRISTMAS CONFESSION ((Walter Russell Bowie: A Christmas Creed))
L: I believe in Jesus Christ and the beauty of the gospel begun
P: I believe in the one whose spirit glorified a little town;
and whose spirit still brings music to persons all over the
world in towns both large and small.
L: I believe in the one for whom the crowded inn could find no
room, and I confess that my heart still sometimes wants to
exclude Christ from my life today.
P: I believe in the one who the rulers of the earth ignored and
the proud could never understand; whose life was among
common people, whose welcome came from persons of hungry
L: I believe in the one who proclaimed the love of God to be
P: I believe in the one whose cradle was a mother's arms,
whose modest home in Nazareth had love for its only wealth,
who looked at persons and made them see what God's love saw
in them, who by love brought sinners back to purity, and
lifted human weakness up to meet the strength of God.
L: I confess our ever-lasting need of God:
P: The need of forgiveness for our selfishness and greed, the
need of new life for empty souls, the need of love for
hearts grown cold.
L: I believe in God who gives us the best of himself.
P: I believe in Jesus, the son of the living God, born in
Bethlehem this night, for me and for the world.
THE LORD'S PRAYER SUNG (following the Cantor)
DISTRIBUTION OF COMMUNION AND LIGHTING OF CANDLES:
As everyone comes forward to receive communion
(moving counter-clockwise around the church)
Please light a candle after receiving communion.
CAROL: Silent Night
DEPARTING PRAYER: The Canticle of Simeon (unison)
BENEDICTION AND THREEFOLD AMEN
BLESSING SONG: "Go Now In Peace"
Written by Richard and Charlene Fairchild
and Anne Stansell (music selection and concept)
copyright 1994 - 2005
please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.