Liturgy by TLW



Lessons and Carols on the Eve of
the Nativity of Our Lord

by The Rev. Thomas L. Weitzel
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Below is a complete liturgy, including a greeting and introduction to the service. Chanted prayers should follow typical chant formulas for collects such as those suggested in the Minister's Edition of the Lutheran Book of Worship, pp. 18-20. Music for "Drop Down, O Heavens" in the "Invitation to Worship" section may be found by right clicking here and choosing "Save Target As" to save it into your computer for later insertion into a word processing document of your choice.




     A very merry Christmas to all who come to worship the Christ Child.

     Our liturgy this evening tells the story of the manger in lessons, responsive readings, and prayers. At the service's high point, the Procession of the Christ Child comes to the manger where the gospel of Christ's birth is read and the Christ Child is placed in the creche.

     An array of candles exemplify the Christ as "light of the world" (John 8:12), as the light is gradually spread during the service from the Advent Wreath to candles throughout the church.

     Candles, processions, colorful adornments, carols and songs, all combine to witness to the beauty and awe of this holy night.





Entrance Hymn   "O Come, All Ye Faithful"


Invitation to Worship:

P. Beloved in Christ, we are gathered together on this Eve of Christmas to prepare our hearts for the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ; to meditate upon the mystery of that Incarnation by which our nature is redeemed, and to receive with joy the message of our salvation.

     (chanted) Drop down, O heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness. Let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation.   Isaiah 45:8

     (chanted) Let us pray. Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born of a pure virgin. Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and forever.

C. (sung on one tone) Amen




Hymn   "What Child Is This"

During the hymn, the Christ candle and the Advent Wreath are lighted.
After the hymn, the people are seated.


The story of Mary:  St. Luke 1:26-35

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words, and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." And Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God. " Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word."

The word of the Lord
C. Thanks be to God.



A. The Lord himself will give you a sign.

C. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son.


A. And they shall name him Emmanuel,

C. Which means, God is with us.    Isaiah 7:14


Prayer:    All stand

P: (chanted) Let us pray. Almighty God, in choosing the virgin Mary to be the mother of your Son, you made known your gracious regard for the poor and lowly. Grant us grace to receive your Word in humility, and so to be made one with your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C. (sung on one tone) Amen





Hymn   "O Little Town of Bethlehem"

During the hymn, the votive candles on the altar are lighted.
After the hymn, the people are seated.


The story of Joseph:  St. Matthew 1:18-21

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

The word of the Lord
C. Thanks be to God.



A. A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse.

C. And a branch shall grow out of his roots.


A. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him.

C. The spirit of wisdom and understanding.


A. The spirit of counsel and might.

C. The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.    Isaiah 11:1-2


Prayer:    All stand

P. (chanted) Let us pray. O God, who from the family of your servant David raised up Joseph to be the guardian of your incarnate Son and the spouse of his virgin mother: Give us grace to imitate his uprightness of life and his obedience to your commands; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C. (sung on one tone) Amen





Hymn   "The First Noel"

During the hymn, the tall candles on the Altar are lighted.
After the hymn, the people are seated.


The story of the Star:  St. Matthew 2:1-2,7-10

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him." Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him." When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

The word of the Lord
C. Thanks be to God.



A. Arise, shine, for your light has come.

C. And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.


A. For darkness shall cover the earth,

C. And thick darkness the peoples.


A. But the Lord will arise upon you,

C. And his glory will appear over you.    Isaiah 60:1-2


Prayer:   All stand

P. (chanted) Let us pray. O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C. (sung on one tone) Amen





Hymn   "Infant Holy, Infant Lowly"

During the hymn, the Altar candles on the wall are lighted.
After the hymn, the people are seated.


The story of the Angels: St. Luke 2:8-14

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see -- I am bringing you good news of a great joy for all the people; to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"

The word of the Lord
C. Thanks be to God.



A. Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings.

C. Lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings.


A. Lift it up, do not fear.

C. Say to the cities of Judah, "Here is your God!"   Isaiah 10:9


Prayer:    All stand

P. (chanted) Let us pray. Almighty God, you have made yourself known in your Son, Jesus, redeemer of the world. We pray that his birth as a human child will set us free from the old slavery of our sin; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C. (sung on one tone) Amen





Procession of the Christ Child:

Hymn  "Angels We Have Heard on High," stanzas 1-2

During the hymn, the Christ Child is brought in procession to the manger.


The story of Jesus' Birth:  St. Luke 2:1-7

In those days a decree went out from the Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

The word of the Lord
C. Thanks be to God.


Hymn "Angels We Have Heard on High," stanza 3


Blessing of the Creche:

P. Blessed are you, O Lord our God, king of the universe. You have enriched our lives with every good and perfect gift; you have commanded us to show your splendor to our children and to praise you with lives of love, justice, and joy. Be with us this night, and bless + this creche, that it may be a visible sign of your saving grace and love in all our Christmas celebrations; through your Son, Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be all honor and glory, now and forever.

C. Amen The people are seated.


(Special Music by Youth)


Hymn of the Day   "Good Christian Friends"

All stand to sing the hymn


Nicene Creed

C. We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

     We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

     We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, + and the life of the world to come. Amen



Special Music


Offertory Prayer:

A. Let us pray. Lord of Christmas,

C. We are mindful of the supreme gift that you gave us in a manger at Bethlehem. Humbly we offer our gifts of service and possessions in joyful thanksgiving for the love you have shown us. Accept these gifts for the sake of your Son who was born to us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen





Distribution of the Light:

As the acolytes pass the light to members of the congregation,
pass it to the person next to you.
DO NOT TIP a lighted candle.

As the light is being passed, the Assisting Minister reads the following:


Lesson of Light:  St. John 1:1-14

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 came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. In him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth.


Song of Simeon:

C. Lord, now let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled. My own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people: a light to lighten the nations and the glory of your people Israel. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen St. Luke 2:29-32


Silent Night: (all sing)

1. 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.

2. Silent night, holy night! Shepherds quake at the sight; Glories stream from heaven afar, Heav'nly hosts sing, Alleluia! Christ, the Savior, is born! Christ, the Savior, is born!

3. Silent night, holy night! Son of God, love's pure light Radiant beams from your holy face, With the dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus, Lord, at your birth, Jesus, Lord, at your birth.


Closing Prayer and Benediction:

P. (chanted) Let us pray. Almighty God, you have made this holy night shine with the brightness of the true Light. Grant that here on earth we may walk in the light of Jesus' presence and in the last day wake to the brightness of his glory; through your only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Prayer for Christmas I)

C. (sung on one tone) Amen


P. (chanted) The Almighty and Incarnate God, Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit bless you now and forever.

C. (sung on one tone) Amen

All extinguish their candles.


Closing Hymn    "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"