Summary: Our Candlelight Service for 2004 as will be presented Christmas Eve. This is submitted to share an idea that might be beneficial to smaller churches.
CHRISTMAS CANDLELIGHT SERVICE
PRELUDE: “HALLELUJAH CHORUS”
WELCOME TO WORSHIPPERS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
HYMN # 89 “O COME, ALL YE FAITHFUL” (verses 1, 2, 3)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
John 1:1-4; 14
It was Christmas Eve in the Austrian Alps and Pastor Joseph Mohr was preparing for the midnight service. He was distraught when he found out that the church organ was broken, ruining prospects for that evening’s carefully planned music. But Pastor Mohr was about to learn that our problems are God’s opportunities, that the Lord causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him. It came to Pastor Mohr’s mind to write a new song, one that could easily be sung without an organ. Hastily, he wrote the words, “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.” Taking the text to his organist, Franz Gruber, he explained the situation and asked Franz to compose a simple tune. That night, December 24, 1818, “Silent Night” was sung for the first time as a duet accompanied by a guitar. It was first used in America by German-speaking congregations, then appeared in it current English form in a book of Sunday School songs in 1863. Were it not for a broken organ, the Christmas carol “Silent Night” would have never been written. (Based on the account given in “Then Sings My Soul” by Robert J. Morgan, page 93, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 2003).
HYMN # 91 “SILENT NIGHT, HOLY NIGHT”. (verses 1,2,4)
For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. Isaiah 9:6-7
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the hymn “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” on Christmas Eve 1863 for the children of the Sunday School of the Church of the Disciples in Boston. The Civil War was at it worst. Six months earlier 40,000 men were killed, wounded, or reported missing on both sides. Longfellow’s son Charley, age 19, had been wounded about one month before the carol was written, and was being cared for in the Longfellow’s home. It is not difficult to understand how Longfellow bowed his head in despair and thought “there is no peace on earth”. The great poet poured out his soul for peace and good will in that very troubled time in the history of our nation. (Based on “Handbook to The Baptist Hymnal”, page 150, Convention Press, Nashville, 1992).
HYMN # 98 “I HEARD THE BELLS ON CHRISTMAS DAY” (all verses)
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:18-23
CHRISTMAS OFFERING FOR WORLD MISSIONS
HYMN # 93 “IT CAME UPON THE MIDNIGHT CLEAR” (verses 1,4)
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.