A Manger for the World

Advent through Christmas Season 2017 — Series Overview

Christmas Eve 2017, Year B (Candlelight Communion Service)

There is only one home that is permanent, and that is the home we make with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate tonight, and whose coming again we will not fear, but rather, will look for with the hope of Joseph, and the joy of Mary, and the curiosity and conviction of the Magi, and the boldness of the shepherds in the field. Let us gather around the manger. Let us gather around the Table of our Lord.



Welcome to Our World (W&S 3067)

Chris Rice has written a touching song of welcome that calls us to address the pain we witness and feel in our community. Jesus comes as the bringer of peace and salvation, and we make room for him in our hearts, in our churches, in our communities, and in our world. Don’t make the accompaniment of this contemporary hymn overly complicated. Simple is better; a guitar or piano best brings out the character of the text and tune. One suggestion--the prevailing rhythmic pattern of the melody is based on the following simple rhythm:

Welcome to Our World rhythm.png

When leading the singing of this hymn, it is most accessible for the congregation to sing this rhythm in place of the written rhythm in measure six (“we’ve been waiting”). Another option would be to use the rhythm found in the second measure, which incorporates the same notes down one octave.

Jesus, the Light of the World (W&S, 3056, or The Africana Hymnal, 4038)

There are two versions of this song you can choose from in your preparation: Worship & Song, 3056, or The Africana Hymnal, 4038. The W&S setting incorporates a text by Ken Bible (who wrote “Love Has Come”) and focuses upon the imagery of the star. This week, we recommend the version from The Africana Hymnal, which uses the text of “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” along with the familiar refrain. Don’t sing this song too quickly. It must have a slow, rocking character, which can be accomplished at a metronome marking of about 100-104. An organ (especially a Hammond!), piano, or gospel band can accompany this song with style. Should your choir want to sing this as an anthem or use the piece itself as the congregational song, see this arrangement by André Thomas, published by Choristers Guild (CGA1063). It has a fairly advanced piano accompaniment, but you won’t regret using it if your pianist can play advanced repertoire. View our "Jesus, the Light of the World" hymn study or read History of Hymns: "Jesus, the Light of the World" »

‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime (UMH 244)

This Christmas carol has risen in prominence because of its importance as an early Native North American nativity carol. The hymn is replete with imagery that originates from the Huron people of North America. It is very singable and can be accompanied in a number of ways. Yes, it may be played on organ or piano, but it is also frequently sung with a hand drum and unaccompanied flute. Care needs to be taken at the transition into the refrain with a long enough pause for breath before the refrain begins. This can be accomplished by slowing slightly in the measure before the refrain and inserting a cutoff at the break in the measure with enough time for a quick breath. Read History of Hymns: "'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime" »

Prayers of the People (The Brilliance)

A wonderful addition to the modern worship music catalogue, this service music represents what is possible when combining modern music and liturgy. Short, cyclic choruses become responses as a part of congregational prayer. The A and B sections (“You hear us calling” and “Lord, have mercy”) are both equally usable as prayer responses. If you listen to the YouTube link in the worship order, you will notice a rolling accompaniment with many different instrumentalists. This kind of accompaniment gives a pulse to the prayers and is encouraged. However, keep in mind that whatever kind of accompaniment is possible with the musicians in your church is OK! Again, simpler accompaniments are oftentimes the best. For a keyboard, play simple chords on each beat. For a strummed instrument, something light, slightly syncopated, but steady is the best option.

This song is a great example of modern music created to serve a liturgical purpose, and it is very accessible to churches with any instrumental accompaniment. The song is not meant to stand alone as a song; it will require some intercessions to be created from the context of your community. Respond to each intercession with either the A theme (“You hear us calling”) or the B theme (“Lord, have mercy”). This poignant piece works with organ, piano, guitar, or any other simple accompaniment.

O Holy Night

Originally written as a solo piece, and rarely appearing in hymnals because of the large vocal range needed to sing the melody, O Holy Night, along with Silent Night and Joy to the World, ranks as one of the “most expected” songs in any Christmas Eve service. We’ve included it here as either a congregational or choral/ensemble piece during the offering, if your local version of this service will include an offering.

Love Has Come (W&S 3059)

Another notable hymn identifying Jesus as “Love,” this text and tune combination is a beautiful expression of Jesus as the Son of God and the Light of the World. The last stanza addresses our modern context and the promise of Love as “the peace our hearts are seeking.” Pairing this with BRING A TORCH is a wonderful way to integrate a well-known tune into the worship life of the congregation. The range is well placed for the voice, and using a flute, violin, or oboe (or other treble clef instrument) to double the voices will give musical interest and vocal support. The accompaniment can easily be provided on organ, piano, or guitar.

Infant Holy, Infant Lowly (UMH 229)

Many Christmas hymn tunes written in 3/4 can often be seen as lullabies because of the rocking nature of the meter. This Polish carol definitely fits within the same category as “Away in a Manger” or even the slow 6/8 meter of “Silent Night.” Don’t be fooled, however, into singing this carol too slowly. It is also filled with great joy! The form of the hymn is AABC, in which C is the last two measures of A. In other words, there is great repetition that can help the congregation sing this hymn with confidence. The B section (“Swift are winging… tidings bringing”) begs to build in intensity as the short, four-syllable lines are sung. The melody also rises with each statement, so the last line should be the climax of each stanza. Keep the tempo quick enough to allow an entire phrase to be sung (“Infant holy… cattle stall”). Accompany with an organ, piano, or guitar, and allow a flute to play and accompany the melody up one octave. Read History of Hymns: "Infant Holy, Infant Lowly" »

Silent Night (UMH 239)

For many it wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without singing without singing this beloved nineteenth century Austrian carol while lighting candles. Tonight, we sing it not only as a Christmas song, but also as our prayer of Thanksgiving after Holy Communion. We give thanks for Christ born as Savior long ago, and for Christ received into our bodies, here and now, that the radiant beams from his holy face may shine through ours to give light and hope and redeeming grace to all the world.

Joy to the World (UMH 246)

This well-known hymn is often set within the liturgy on Christmas Eve and truly harkens to the reign of God in its fullness. Therefore, “Joy to the World” is indeed a wonderful Advent hymn, in addition to its use on Christmas Eve. This hymn is usually set in the key of D for a reason — tone color presents D as one of the brightest keys in western music. Let the brightness of the tune, ANTIOCH, shine as you sing it in worship. There are plenty of arrangements and hymn accompaniments of this for brass. Put those band students and local musicians to work! Read History of Hymns: "Joy to the World" »

In This Series...

First Sunday of Advent 2017 Planning Notes Second Sunday of Advent 2017 Planning Notes Third Sunday of Advent 2017 Planning Notes Christmas Eve 2017 Planning Notes Fourth Sunday of Advent 2017 Planning Notes First Sunday After Christmas Day 2017 Planning Notes


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In This Series...

First Sunday of Advent 2017 Planning Notes Second Sunday of Advent 2017 Planning Notes Third Sunday of Advent 2017 Planning Notes Christmas Eve 2017 Planning Notes Fourth Sunday of Advent 2017 Planning Notes First Sunday After Christmas Day 2017 Planning Notes