DePat note: This was originally supposed to post at the time it would have been done on the east coast, 11 pm. I reconsidered that and offer it early in the hopes that more people can partake.
After four long weeks of waiting, Christmas has finally arrived. Well, almost. When this publishes not in my time zone, it won’t be Midnight just yet.
For reasons that do not need to be delved, I thought I would put up what amounts to my version of Lessons and Carols, using some of my favorite music that I didn’t get to sing this year. A few pieces, yes, were slated, but my truly favorite stuff, no.
Lessons and Carols prior to Midnight on Christmas Eve is a relatively new tradition begun at Kings College in Cambridge in England. The current form was first done in 1918, and bore a far more formal name. However, the original Lessons and Carols came out of Truro Cathedral in Cornwall, where the congregation was invited to sing along with the choir. It was considered to be a service, and in other branches of Christianity, such a sing-a-long prior to Worship is usually called a prelude.
What makes Lessons and Carols different is the interspersing of Scripture readings outlining the fall of man, God’s promise to Abraham, the prophesy of the Messiah, the Annunciation of the Incarnation, and the birth of the Savior at the Nativity. As this is not an official Liturgy, but a service with sections that are not static, even Catholics use the form for a concert or prelude. Carols for the congregation are plenty, as is work for choir and soloists. I synthesized a number of programs I found online to present this version.
One thing I should mention about the combined seasons of Advent and Christmas is that the music which is so beloved is, in and of itself, a history lesson. The vast majority, yes, is European in origin, but it reflects over fifteen hundred years of music and music development. Every time period and type is represented: chants from multiple centuries, formal pieces from the great composers, folk songs written for guitar, and much more.
That’s one of the reasons I love this time of year.
Without further ado…..
Lessons And Carols According To DePat
From the Book of Genesis, Chapter 3:
 And when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in paradise at the afternoon air, Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God, amidst the trees of paradise.  And the Lord God called Adam, and said to him: Where art thou?  And he said: I heard thy voice in paradise; and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.
 And he said to him: And who hath told thee that thou wast naked, but that thou hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat?  And Adam said: The woman, whom thou gavest me to be my companion, gave me of the tree, and I did eat.  And the Lord God said to the woman: Why hast thou done this? And she answered: The serpent deceived me, and I did eat.  And the Lord God said to the serpent: Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle, and beasts of the earth: upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.  I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.
 To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee.  And to Adam he said: Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work; with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life.  Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth.  In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.
From the Book of Genesis, Chapter 22:
 And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, saying:
 By my own self have I sworn, saith the Lord: because thou hast done this thing, and hast not spared thy only begotten son for my sake:  I will bless thee, and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that is by the sea shore: thy seed shall possess the gates of their enemies.  And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice.
From the Prophet Jeremiah, Chapter 23:
 Behold the days come, saith the Lord, and I will raise up to David a just branch: and a king shall reign, and shall be wise, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
 In those days shall Juda be saved, and Israel shall dwell confidently: and this is the name that they shall call him: the Lord our just one.  Therefore behold the days to come, saith the Lord, and they shall say no more: The Lord liveth, who brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt:  But the Lord liveth, who hath brought out, and brought hither the seed of the house of Israel from the land of the north, and out of all the lands, to which I had cast them forth: and they shall dwell in their own land.
From the Prophet Isaiah, Chapter 9:
 At the first time the land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephtali was lightly touched: and at the last the way of the sea beyond the Jordan of the Galilee of the Gentiles was heavily loaded.  The people that walked in darkness, have seen a great light: to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death, light is risen.  Thou hast multiplied the nation, and hast not increased the joy. They shall rejoice before thee, as they that rejoice in the harvest, as conquerors rejoice after taking a prey, when they divide the spoils.  For the yoke of their burden, and the rod of their shoulder, and the sceptre of their oppressor thou hast overcome, as in the day of Median.  For every violent taking of spoils, with tumult, and garment mingled with blood, shall be burnt, and be fuel for the fire.
 For a CHILD IS BORN to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.  His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of peace: he shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom; to establish it and strengthen it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and for ever: the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
From the Prophet Isaiah, Chapter 11:
 And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root.  And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness.  And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears.  But he shall judge the poor with justice, and shall reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.  And justice shall be the girdle of his loins: and faith the girdle of his reins.
 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb: and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: the calf and the lion, and the sheep shall abide together, and a little child shall lead them.  The calf and the bear shall feed: their young ones shall rest together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.  And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp: and the weaned child shall thrust his hand into the den of the basilisk.  They shall not hurt, nor shall they kill in all my holy mountain, for the earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the covering waters of the sea.  In that day the root of Jesse, who standeth for an ensign of the people, him the Gentiles shall beseech, and his sepulchre shall be glorious.
From the Gospel According to St. Luke, Chapter 1:
 And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth,  To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.  And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.  Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be.  And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.
 Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus.  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever.  And of his kingdom there shall be no end.  And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?  And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
 And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren:  Because no word shall be impossible with God.  And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
From the Gospel According to St. Luke, Chapter 2:
 And it came to pass, that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled.  This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria.  And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and family of David,  To be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child.
 And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.  And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock.  And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear.  And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:
 For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David.  And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying:  Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.  And it came to pass, after the angels departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath shewed to us.
From the Gospel According to St. Luke, Chapter 2:
 And they came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.  And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child.  And all that heard, wondered; and at those things that were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
The beginning of the Gospel According to St. John:
 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him.  He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light.  That was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world.  He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.  But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name.  Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
There are a lot more carols to choose from, of course, and in the most used lessons, the Epiphany reading is included as well as the Christmas Carol drinking song, We Three Kings, but that doesn’t come up for another twelve days.
And for those who are inclined to fall for the adopting saturnalia story for the date of Christ’s birth currently circulating in regards to Christmas….