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The Christ Mass at Midnight
on the Nativity of Our Lord

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

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Below is a complete liturgy, including a greeting and introduction to the service. Music for the chants are provided in a downloadable PDF, all the chants being in one document.  In order to print the chant, right click on the chant link and choose "Save Target As" to save it into your computer for later insertion into a word processing document of your choice.  Chanted prayers below 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.

 

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

     Our liturgy this evening is the special Eucharist from which comes the word Christmas. It is the Christ Mass, the incarnation of our Lord and Savior: in a manger in Bethlehem, in the Word of proclamation, in the sacrament of Holy Communion, and in our hearts as we take him into the world.

     Ancient chants and ancient scripture combine with candles, carols, and bright array to tell the story of the Christ Child’s birth in the quiet of this special night. In the intimacy and lateness of the hour, we meditate by the manger, and in awe adore him as the infant God and King.

 

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Prelude

 

Invitatory: (chanted from the narthex)  [Click here for chant]

P or A or choir: Unto us a child is born. Unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be on his shoulder; and his name shall be called wonderful, mighty counsellor, the Prince of peace. O sing unto the Lord a new son; for he has done marvelous things. Glory be to the father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

All stand

 

Entrance Hymn   "O Come, All Ye Faithful"

 

Dialog for Christmas

A. Blessed are you, O Christ, Son of God, you were before time began and came into the world to save us.

C. Blessed are you, Sun of Righteousness, you shine with the Father’s love and illumine the whole universe

 

A. Blessed are you, Son of Mary; born a child, you shared our humanity.

C. Let heaven and earth ring out their praise.

 

A. O Mystery of the Word made flesh, with all the voices of heaven, we celebrate your coming as our Savior.

C. Let men and women and angels sing of your glory.

 

A. O Splendor the Father’s Light, with all the creatures on earth we sing and dance at your birth.

C. Praise and honor and glory to you, O Incarnate Word.

 

Antiphon to the Hymn of Praise:  [Click here for chant]

P or A or choir: (chanted) Today the Christ is born. Today has a Savior appeared. Today on earth Angels are singing, archangels rejoicing. Today the righteous exult and say, Glory to God in the highest. Alleluia.

 

Hymn of Praise #71  “Angels, We Have Heard on High”

 

Prayer of the Day: (sung)

P. The Lord be with you.

C. And also with you.

 

P. 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.

C. (sung on one tone) Amen

Sit

 

First Lesson:  Isaiah 9:2-7

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness-- on them light has shined. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

The word of the Lord
C. Thanks be to God

 

Responsory:  [Click here for chant]

P or A or choir: (chanted) Whom do you behold, O shepherds? Tell us. Declare to us the tidings, on earth who has appeared? We saw the newborn Infant, and the choir of Angels, praising the Lord together. Alleluia, alleluia.

 

Second Lesson:  Titus 3:4-7

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

The word of the Lord
C. Thanks be to God

 

Responsory:  [Click here for chant]

P or A or choir: (chanted) The Angel said unto the shepherds, Behold, I bring you joyful tidings. For unto you is born this day the world’s Redeemer. Alleluia.

All stand

 

Hymn   “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”

During the Hymn the Christ Child is brought in procession to the Manger.

 

Gospel Lesson:  Luke 2:1-7

P. The Holy Gospel according the St. Luke, the second chapter.
C. Glory to you, O Lord.

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.

P. The Gospel of the Lord
C. Praise to you, O Christ.

 

Hymn   “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly”

Sermon

Hymn of the Day   “O Little Town of Bethlehem”

 

Prayers for the Christ Mass:

A. I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever.

C. With my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.

 

A. To us you have brought abundant joy.

C. Before you we rejoice and sing.

 

P. (chanted) Let us pray. O God, to whom glory is sung in the highest while on earth peace is proclaimed to all people of goodwill, grant that goodwill to us, your servants. Cleanse us from all our sins, and give perpetual peace to us and to all people; through your mercy, O God, who blesses and governs all things, now and forever.

C. (sing on one tone) Amen

 

A. Tomorrow the iniquity of the earth shall be blotted out.

C. And the Savior of the world shall reign over us.

 

A. The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light.

C. For those abiding in the land of death, a new splendor has appeared.

 

P. (chanted) God of love, Father of all, the darkness that covered the earth has given way to the bright dawn of your Word made flesh. Make us a people of this light. Make us faithful to your Word, that we may bring your life to the waiting world.; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

C. (sung on one tone) Amen

 

A. Today for our sake, the King of heaven is born of a virgin mother:

C. To reclaim the lost for the heavenly kingdom.

 

A. All the angels cry aloud with joy:

C. For God has come himself to save all humanity.

 

P. (chanted) Almighty God, you wonderfully created and yet more wonderfully restored the dignity of human nature. In your mercy, let us share the divine life of Jesus Christ who came to share our humanity, and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C. (sung on one tone) Amen

 

P. The peace of the Lord be with you always.

C. And also with you.

All greet one another in the name of the Lord, saying
Peace be with you. Afterwards, the people are seated.

 

Offering

Special Music

Offertory Hymn   “What Child Is This”

 

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

 

Great Thanksgiving: (sung)   [Click here for chant]

P. The Lord be with you.

C. And also with you.

 

P. Lift up your hearts.

C. We lift them to the Lord.

 

P. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

C. It is right to give him thanks and praise.

 

P. It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places offer thanks and praise to you, O Lord, holy Father, through Christ our Lord. In the wonder and mystery of the Word made flesh you have opened the eyes of faith to a new and radiant vision of your glory; that, beholding the God made visible, we may be drawn to love the God whom we cannot see.  [Click here for Words of Institution chant]

     Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and gave thanks; broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take and eat; this is my body, given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.

     Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. Do this for the remembrance of me.

 

P. (chant) And now as our Savior taught us, we are bold to say:

C. Our Father (may be sung, LBW p. 112, ELW p.163)

 

At the Breaking of Bread: (spoken)

P: The Word was made flesh. Alleluia, alleluia.
C: And dwelt among us. Alleluia, alleluia.

 

P: Glory to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
C: The Word was made flesh. Alleluia, alleluia.

Sit

 

Distribution

During Communion:  Hymn   “Away in a Manger”

 

After Communion: Stand

P. The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen and keep you in his grace.

C. 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.

While 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 and Father of light, a child is born for us and a son is given to us. Your eternal Word leaped down from heaven in the silent watches of the night, and now your Church is filled with wonder and light at the nearness of our God. Open our hearts to receive his life and increase our vision with the rising of the dawn, that our lives may be filled with his glory and his peace; who lives and reigns forever and ever.

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"

Postlude