Every Christmas Eve in Cambridge, England, the Choir of King’s College performs A Festival of Nine Lessons in Carols. This annual service, broadcast on the radio worldwide by the BBC, includes scripture readings and music. It is one of my favorite Christmas traditions, and I hope to experience it in person some day. The broadcast begins at 3:00 local time (10:00 Eastern Standard Time). In the United States, you can likely hear it on your NPR station.
The 2016 order of service is here.
After the processional hymn, “Once in Royal David’s City,” the dean of the cathedral offers this prayer. It is one of the most beautiful prayers I have ever heard.
Beloved in Christ, be it this Christmastide our care and delight to hear again the message of the angels, and in heart and mind to go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass, and the Babe lying in a manger.
Therefore let us read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience unto the glorious Redemption brought us by this Holy Child.
But first, let us pray for the needs of the whole world; for peace on earth and goodwill among all his people; for unity and brotherhood within the Church he came to build, and especially in this University and City of Cambridge and royal and religious Foundations of King Henry VI here and at Eton.
And because this of all things would rejoice his heart, let us remember, in his name, the poor and helpless, the cold, the hungry, and the oppressed; the sick and them that mourn, the lonely and the unloved, the aged and the little children; all those who know not the Lord Jesus, or who love him not, or who by sin have grieved his heart of love.
Lastly, let us remember before God all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore, and in a greater light, that multitude which no man can number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom in the Lord Jesus we are for ever one.
These prayers and praises let us humbly offer up to the Throne of Heaven, in the words which Christ himself hath taught us:
Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever. Amen.