Home Candlelight Service for Christmas Eve: Scripture, Carols, and Communion

Candlelight Service for Christmas Eve: Scripture, Carols, and Communion

This service is a variation on a service of light — an opposite of a tenebrae service.

The following candles should be placed on a table in the chancel area in preparation for the service. I use a variety of candle lengths and place them on various kinds of fabrics at varying heights for interest. Each candle symbolizes a character in the narrative. Candles will be lighted by an acolyte during the service as specified by the program notes included in this copy of the service.

  • Mary, Joseph and Baby candles are placed on a muslin or burlap fabric in the center of the table.
  • Mary — light blue candle in simple ceramic candleholder
  • Joseph— royal blue candle in simple ceramic candleholder, can be similar or identical to Mary's
  • Baby Jesus — simple, clear round candleholder with white votive candle
  • The angel candles are yellow, placed in crystal candleholders on a glittery gold fabric directly behind the Mary and Joseph candles. One is taller than the others — this is the Gabriel candle.
  • The shepherd candles are a variety of shades of green, placed in wooden candleholders on a green shade of fabric. These are placed to the left of the angel candles.
  • The king candles are a variety of shades of purple, placed in silver candlesticks on a fabric of red velvet. These are placed to the right of the angel candles.

In the liturgy, the congregation reads all that is printed in bold.

I print words to the hymns in the bulletin.

Feel free to substitute anthems, solos, or other service music.

For the lighting of the Advent Wreath this year, use choral or congregational music.

Mt. Sylvan United Methodist Church
Durham, North Carolina
Christmas Eve Service
December 24, 2009, 5:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.

Rejoice, for God is with us — Emmanuel.
In the darkness of our world shines God's holy light.
Now there is reason to hope, to love, to laugh, to live.
God is truly with us. We are not alone.
Thanks be to God!

O Come, All Ye Faithful
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.

True God of true God, Light from Light eternal.
Lo, He shuns not the virgin's womb.
Son of the Father, begotten, not created.
O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation.
Sing all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, all glory in the highest!
O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

See how the shepherds, summoned to His cradle,
leaving their flocks, draw nigh to gaze.
We too would thither bend our joyful footsteps.
O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning,
Jesus, to Thee be all glory given.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing,
O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Gracious God,
With joy and thanksgiving we gather as your people.
We have come to hear again the timeless story of Christ's birth.
In the excitement of this night, quiet our hearts
that we may know the peace and fullness of this holy time.
Shine, O Light, in the darkness of our world.
Sing, O angels, in the stillness of our hearts,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those God favors."
This we pray in the name of the Child of Bethlehem. Amen.

(People are seated all lights are dimmed — DARKNESS except altar candles, Chrismon tree and Advent wreath candles)

The Prophecy of the Messiah
Isaiah 9:2, 6-7, John 1:1-2, 4-5

The Lighting of the Christ Candle
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God,
Emmanuel, Emmanuel, God with us, Emmanuel.

The Coming of Jesus Is Announced to Mary and Joseph
Luke 1:26-38, Matthew 1:18-25
I Choose You (Rachel Lampa)
Kristin Sawyer, soloist

(As soloist sings, Gabriel candle and Mary and Joseph candles are lighted.)

The Preparations for the Birth of Jesus
Luke 2:1-5

O Little Town of Bethlehem
O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie,
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark street shineth the everlasting light.
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

Jesus is Born
Luke 2:6-7

Away in a Manger
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
the little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head.
The stars in the sky look down where He lay,
the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

(As congregation sings, the Baby Jesus candle is lighted.
House lights go up one notch.)

Anthem: "O Holy Night," Adult Choir

Jesus' Birth is Announced to the Shepherds
Luke 2:9-14

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
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.

(While congregation sings, the angel candles are lighted.
House lights go up a notch,)

The First Noel
The first noel the angels did say was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay.
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep on a cold winter's night that was so deep.
Noel, noel, noel, noel. Born is the King of Israel

(While congregation sings, the shepherd candles are lighted.
House lights go up one notch.)

The Shepherds Find the Baby Jesus
Luke 2:15-18
The Wise Men Bring Their Gifts to Jesus
Matthew 2:1-11

The First Noel
And by the light of that same star, three wise men came from county far.
To seek for a king was their intent, and to follow the star wherever it went.
Noel, noel, noel, noel.
Born is the King of Israel.
Then entered in the wise men three, full reverently upon the knee.
And offered there in His presence their gold and myrrh and frankincense.
Noel, noel, noel, noel.
Born is the King of Israel.

(While congregation sings, the king candles are lighted.
House lights go up to full light.)

We Offer Our Gifts to God

Offertory Response
So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh, come, peasant, king, to own Him.
The King of Kings salvation brings. Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
This, this is Christ the King whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Haste, haste to bring him laud the Babe, the Son of Mary.

Meditation by Dr. Greener

Merciful God, we confess that often we find darkness more comfortable than light.
We confess that we find your good news frightening and unsettling,
especially when we consider its demands as well as its promises.
We confess that Christmas has become more to us than the birthday of the Christ,
partly because we do not want a Christ-Child in our lives or in our world.
Forgive us, break us, bend us, remake us.
Give us the courage to lay ourselves open to the wonder and healing of your coming.
Be born again into our world, be born again into our hearts and lives.
Hear now our silent and personal confessions as we prepare ourselves for your nativity.

The true light that enlightens all has come into the world.
That light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness has never been able to put it out.
This is the good news: God has heard our confession. God has forgiven our sin.
Thanks be to God!





Born to Die
Tanya Watkins, soloist

PRAYER AFTER COMMUNIONWe are filled with joy for we have heard good news of great joy.
We are filled with love for we have tasted the sign of God's great love.
We are filled with hope for the angels still sing in our world
and there is a Light for us to follow.

Silent Night
Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.
Round yon virgin, mother and Child, Holy Infant, so tender and mild.
Sleep in heavenly peace. Sleep in heavenly peace.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Hark! The herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.
Joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies.
With angelic hosts proclaim, "Christ is born in Bethlehem!"
Hark! The herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn 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 men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King.

Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace! Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Life and light 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 us second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King.

Joy to the World
Joy to the world! The Lord is come. Let earth receive her king.
Let every heart prepare Him room and heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing, and heaven, and heaven and nature sing.

He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove

The glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love, and wonders, wonders of His love.

Copyright © 2009 Kathie Wilkinson. Published with permission by Discipleship Ministries, PO Box 340003; Nashville TN 37203-0003. Congregations are encouraged to use and adapt this service for their settings. Please credit Rev. Kathie S Wilkinson/Mt. Sylvan UMC as the source for this service.

If you have questions, please contact Kathie Wilkinson at [email protected] or [email protected]

Kathie Wilkinson
Mt. Sylvan UMC
5731 North Roxboro Road
Durham, North Carolina 27712

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