Day One — Wednesday 25 December 2019 — The Birth of Our Lord — Christmas Day

The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us. O come, let us worship. Alleluia


Isaiah 62.6-12 | Ps 97 | Titus 3.4-8a | Luke 2.1-20 |


Natvity scene by John August Swanson (California, 1938– )

Henriette de Saussure Blanding, 1930

Now that the winter sky was cold
And breath of oxen hung more white
Than starshine or than candlelight,

Her hour was come, who sensed no gold
Nor frankincense nor any myrrh
In darkness closing over her.

The streets of Bethlehem were wide
And hollow beneath Joseph's feet
Who found no star his eyes could meet.

Gorged with Rome's taxing, on his side
The tavern-keeper snored his fill.
Pale ghosts of sheep strayed on the hill.

And numb men, roused from frightened sleep,
Lit hasty fires in frozen grass
To tell strange dreams till the night pass.

The oxen watched above that deep
Where love goes crowned through love undone.

At dawn she lived, and knew her son.


God of joy, we celebrate the birth of your Son! In churches throughout the world, people are gathering. We are glad that we can celebrate together. Yet when we come to pray, we soon remember that there are many who are not able to be joyful this Christmas: survivors from war and disaster, loved ones of those killed by violence and accident, refugees—herded together behind wire, and people sleeping rough, and too many others. Loving God, we ask for your compassion on those who cannot rejoice. Help us to know how to celebrate and how to show mercy.

Dear Lord, how deeply we pray that the nations of the earth would respond to the gospel of peace, the goodwill your angels announced to the shepherds at Bethlehem. We pray for the people of Bethlehem today—help them somehow to find a way to peace.

We pray for the church; may it truly represent the good news of Jesus. As the church worships the Christ-child, by the power of your Spirit give new love where there is dispute, new hope where there is struggle and setback, and new faith in your power and goodness.

Lord Jesus, you were born as a vulnerable child into an ordinary family, to experience the ups and downs of family life. Often, we feel vulnerable at Christmas time. Be with those who find loneliness hard to bear, who experience hurt or disappointment. Be close to those for whom Christmas is a reminder of tragedy or bereavement. We give thanks for the happiness of Christmas, but we ask that you help us when we feel sadness or distress.

Heal, we pray, all who need restoration in body, soul and spirit. As holidays begin, we ask for rest and safety for those who are taking a break and encouragement for those who need to work.

We thank you, Lord, for the angels' proclamation of peace and goodwill to all and for the promise of eternal life. May your kingdom come and your will be done. We thank you in the name of Jesus whose birth we celebrate.

Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle, from a poem by Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) set to a melody by Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787). Played and sung by Andrea Bocelli, 2009.

Tu scendi dalle stelle, o Re del cielo,
e vieni in una grotta al freddo e al gelo,
e vieni in una grotta al freddo e al gelo.
Bambino mio Divino,
Io ti vedo qui a tremar.
O Dio Beato,
Ahi, quanto ti costò l'avermi amato!
Ahi, quanto ti costò l'avermi amato!

A te, che sei del mondo il Creatore,
mancano panni e fuoco; O mio Signore!
mancano panni e fuoco; O mio Signore!
Caro eletto Pargoletto,
Quanto questa povertà
più mi innamora!
Giacché ti fece amor povero ancora!
Giacché ti fece amor povero ancora!

From starry skies descending,
Thou comest, glorious King,
A manger low Thy bed,
In winter's icy sting;
O my dearest Child most holy,
Shudd'ring, trembling in the cold!
Great God, Thou lovest me!
What suff'ring Thou didst bear,
That I near Thee might be!

Thou art the world's Creator,
God's own and true Word,
Yet here no robe, no fire
For Thee, Divine Lord.
Dearest, fairest, sweetest Infant,
Dire this state of poverty.
The more I care for Thee,
Since Thou, O Love Divine,
Will'st now so poor to be.

May the Lord, who has called us out of darkness into his marvellous light, bless us and fill us with peace. Amen.