THE NINE LESSONS OF MESSIAH’S BIRTH

In 1880 E. W. Benson, Anglican Bishop of Truro, England, composed a Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, based on ancient sources, for Christmas Eve. In 1918 it was adapted for chapel at King’s College, Cambridge. The following Nine Lessons have been customarily used ever since at King’s College. The service below has been edited for terms.

 

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PRELUDE

All Advent Candles are Lighted except the Messiah Candle

CAROL: Once in Royal David’s City (UMH 250)

BIDDING PRAYER (UMBOW 284): Pastor

THE MASTER'S PRAYER: Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowèd be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amein.

ANTHEM: How Beautiful is the Body of Messiah Choir

BLESSING: The Almighty bless us with divine grace, Messiah give us the joys of everlasting life, and unto the fellowship of the citizens above may the King of Angels bring us all. Amein.

SOLO: Of the Father’s Love Begotten (UMH 184)

FIRST LESSON: Yahweh Elohim announces Adam and Eve's punishment for their rebellion and that the offspring of a woman shall bruise the serpent's head.

Genesis 3:8-15 (NJB) The man and his wife heard the sound of Yahweh Elohim walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from Yahweh Elohim among the trees of the garden. But Yahweh Elohim called to the man. "Where are you?" he asked. "I heard the sound of you in the garden," he replied. "I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid." "Who told you that you were naked?" he asked. "Have you been eating from the tree I forbade you to eat?" The man replied, "It was the woman you put with me; she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." Then Yahweh Elohim said to the woman, "Why did you do that?" The woman replied, "The snake tempted me and I ate."

Then Yahweh Elohim said to the snake, "Because you have done this, Accursed be you

of all animals wild and tame! On your belly you will go and on dust you will feed as long as you live. I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; it will bruise your head and you will strike its heel."

This is His Word. We give him thanks.

CAROL: Come Thou Long Expected Yahshua (UMH 196)

SECOND LESSON: Yahweh promises to Abraham that by his descendants all the nations of the earth shall obtain blessing.

Genesis 22:15-18 The angel of Yahweh called Abraham a second time from heaven. "I swear by my own self, Yahweh declares, that because you have done this, because you have not refused me your own beloved son, I will shower blessings on you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants will gain possession of the gates of their enemies. All nations on earth will bless themselves by your descendants, because you have obeyed my command."

This is His Word. We give him thanks.

CAROL: The Elohim of Abraham Praise (UMH 116, vss. 1-3 )

THIRD LESSON: The Prophet announces the birth of a king to a people in darkness.

Isaiah 9:2-6 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; on the inhabitants of a country in shadow dark as death light has blazed forth. You have enlarged the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at harvest time, as they exult when they are dividing the spoils. For the yoke that weighed on it, the bar across its shoulders, the rod of its oppressor, these you have broken as on the day of Midian. For all the footgear clanking over the ground and all the clothing rolled in blood, will be burnt, will be food for the flames. For a son has been born for us, a son has been given to us, and dominion has been laid on his shoulders; and this is the name he has been given, `Wonder-Counselor, Mighty-Elohim, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace."

This is His Word. We give him thanks.

CAROL: Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming (UMH vss. 1-2)

FOURTH LESSON: The King is coming and will usher in a reign of justice for the poor and peace for all of Yahweh Elohim’s creation.

Micah 5:2-5 But you (Bethlehem) Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah, from you will come for me a future ruler of Israel whose origins go back to the distant past, to the days of old. Hence Yahweh will abandon them only until she who is in labour gives birth, and then those who survive of his race will be reunited to the Israelites. He will take his stand and he will shepherd them with the power of Yahweh, with the majesty of the name of his Elohim, and they will be secure, for his greatness will extend henceforth to the most distant parts of the country.

This is His Word. We give him thanks.

CAROL: O Little Town of Bethlehem (UMH 230)

FIFTH LESSON: The angel Gabriel announces to the virgin Maryah that she will give birth to Yahweh’s promised Son whose kingdom shall never end.

Luke 1:26-35 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by Elohim to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin's name was Maryah. He went in and said to her, "Rejoice, highly-favored one! The Lord is with you." She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, "Maryah, do not be afraid; you have won Yahweh’s favour. Look! You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Yahshua / Yahshua. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. Yahweh Elohim will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end."

Maryah said to the angel, "But how can this come about, since I have no knowledge of man?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of Elohim."

This is His Word. We give him thanks.

ACT OF WORSHIP: Canticle of Maryah (UMH 199)

ANTHEM: Child So Lovely Choir

SIXTH LESSON: Against a backdrop of emperors and taxes, Yahshua / Yahshua is born.

The Messiah Candle is Lighted

Luke 2:1-7 Now it happened that at this time Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be made of the whole inhabited world. This census, the first, took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone went to be registered, each to his own town. So Joseph set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee for Judaea, to David's town called Bethlehem, since he was of David's House and line, in order to be registered together with Maryah, his betrothed, who was with child. Now it happened that, while they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first-born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.

This is His Word. We give him thanks.

CAROL: He Is Born (UMH 228)

SEVENTH LESSON: The shepherds go to see the Savior of the world, lying in a manger.

Luke 2:8-16 In the countryside close by there were shepherds out in the fields keeping guard over their sheep during the watches of the night. An angel of the Lord stood over them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said, "Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Messiah the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." And all at once with the angel there was a great throng of the hosts of heaven, praising Elohim with the words: Glory to Elohim in the highest heaven, and on earth peace for those he favours. Now it happened that when the angels had gone from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go to Bethlehem and see this event which the Lord has made known to us." So they hurried away and found Maryah and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger.

This is His Word. We give him thanks.

CAROL: Infant Holy, Infant Lowly (UMH 229)

EIGHTH LESSON: The wise men follow a star to find the child Yahshua / Yahshua, the King of the Jews.

Matthew 2:1-11 After Yahshua had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, suddenly some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east asking, "Where is the infant king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage." When King Herod heard this he was perturbed, and so was the whole of Jerusalem. He called together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, and enquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "At Bethlehem in Judaea, for this is what the prophet wrote: And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, you are by no means the least among the leaders of Judah, for from you will come a leader who will shepherd my people Israel."

Then Herod summoned the wise men to see him privately. He asked them the exact date on which the star had appeared and sent them on to Bethlehem with the words, "Go and find out all about the child, and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may go and do him homage." Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out.

And suddenly the star they had seen rising went forward and halted over the place where the child was. The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Maryah, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.

This is His Word. We give him thanks.

CAROL: We Three Kings (UMH 254)

OFFERING with Doxology

Praise Elohim from Whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below.

Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amein.

NINTH LESSON: John unfolds the great mystery of the incarnation.

John 1:1-14 In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with Elohim and the Word was Elohim. He was with Elohim in the beginning. Through him all things came into being, not one thing came into being except through him. What has come into being in him was life, life that was the light of men; and light shines in darkness, and darkness could not overpower it.

The Word was the real light that gives light to everyone; he was coming into the world. He was in the world that had come into being through him, and the world did not recognise him. He came to his own and his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of Elohim, to those who believed in his name who were born not from human stock or human desire or human will but from Elohim himself.

The Word became flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that he has from the Father as only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.

This is His Word. We give him thanks.

CAROL: Silent Night, Holy Night (UMH 239)

COLLECT: Send, O Father, into the darkness of this troubled world, the light of your Son. Let the star of your hope touch the minds of all people with the bright beams of mercy and truth; and so direct our steps that we may ever walk in the way revealed to us, as the shepherds of Bethlehem walked with joy to the manger where he dwelled, who now and ever reigns in our hearts, Yahshua Messiah our Lord. Amein.

DISMISSAL WITH BLESSING: May the Messiah who by his Incarnation gathered into one things earthly and heavenly, fill you with the sweetness of inward peace and goodwill; and the blessing of the Almighty Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always.

Amein.

Go forth in peace and joy.

Thanks be to Elohim. Alleluia.

Happy Birthday!!