09 December 2009

Advent Carol Service, 2009

The Nativity ... the icon illustrating the cover of the service sheet for the Advent Carol Service

Patrick Comerford

This evening, we had the annual Advent Carol Service with the staff and students of the Church of Ireland Theological Institute in Saint George’s and Saint Thomas’s Church, Cathal Brugha Street, in inner-city Dublin. This is part of the programme for this evening’s service:


Once again we have come to the end of the year. We are all looking forward to the coming of Christ, both at Christmas and in his glory. So the end of the year also holds out the promise and the hope of new beginnings … the new beginning. As TS Eliot wrote in Little Gidding:

What we call the beginning is often the end
and to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.

This evening’s Advent Carol Service with the staff and students of the Church of Ireland Theological Institute opens with the Matin Responsory.

The Matin Responsory was originally adapted for King’s College Chapel, Cambridge. It has since become the traditional opening for Advent Carol Services sung throughout the Anglican Communion. Its source is the doxology and chanted portions from Palestrina’s four-voice setting of the odd verses of the Magnificat Third Tone. The text is a translation of the First Responsory of Advent Sunday in the Office of Matins.

Please sit for the readings, prayers and hymns sung only by the choir. But please join heartily in the other hymns and in the responses.

After the service, you are invited to remain behind and join us for a reception in the Church (by kind invitation).

– Patrick Comerford

Advent Calendar

He will come like last leaf’s fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to the bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud’s folding.

He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens to mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.

He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.

He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like a child.

Rowan Williams

The Preparation:

The lights are dimmed and the candles are lit:

Matin Responsory:

I look from afar: And lo, I see the power of God coming, and a cloud covering the whole earth. Go ye out to meet him and say: Tell us, art thou he that should come to reign over thy people Israel? High and low, rich and poor, one with another, go ye out to meet him and say: Hear, O thou shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep. Tell us, art thou he that should come? Stir up thy strength, O Lord, and come to reign over thy people Israel. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

(Words translated from an early mediƦval Advent Sunday Responsory.)

The Call to Worship

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel
For he has visited and redeemed his people.

God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son
Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.

Whoever believes in the Son will not perish but will have eternal life.
Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.

Lesson 1: Genesis 3: 8-15

The choir processes to the Advent Prose[Note the solo verses; the congregation is invited to join in singing the refrain:]

Drop down, ye heavens from above, and let the sky pour down righteousness.

Be not wroth very sore, O Lord, neither remember iniquity for ever: thy holy cities are a wilderness, Sion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation: our holy and our beautiful house, where our father praised thee.

Drop down, ye heavens from above, and let the sky pour down righteousness.

We have sinned, and are as an unclean thing, and we all do fade as a leaf: and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away; thou hast hid thy face from us: and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.

Drop down, ye heavens from above, and let the sky pour down righteousness.

Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know me and believe me: I, even I, am the Lord, and beside me there is no Saviour: and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.

Drop down, ye heavens from above, and let the sky pour down righteousness.

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, my salvation shall not tarry: I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions: fear not, for I will save thee: for I am the Lord thy God, the holy One of Israel, thy Redeemer.

Drop down, ye heavens from above, and let the sky pour down righteousness.

Welcome: the Revd Dr Maurice Elliott, Director of the Church of Ireland Theological Institute.

The Bidding Prayer: the Revd Canon Katharine Poulton, Bishop’s Curate, Saint George and Saint Thomas:

In the name of God, who has delivered us from the kingdom of darkness, and transferred us to the Kingdom of his beloved Son, we welcome you: grace to you and peace.

We are gathered together to proclaim and receive in our hearts the good news of the coming of God’s Kingdom, and so prepare ourselves to celebrate with confidence and joy the birth of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

We pray that we may respond in penitence and faith to the glory of his Kingdom, its works of justice and its promise of peace, its blessing and its hope.

And as we seek to renew our allegiance to God’s loving purpose, we pray for all who at this time especially need his pity and protection: the sick in body, mind or spirit; those who suffer from loss of dignity or loss of hope; those who face the future with fear, or walk in the shadow of death.

May God, of his grace and mercy, grant to all his people a new trust in his good providence and a new obedience to his sovereign word, for to him is most justly due all glory, honour, worship and praise, world without end. Amen.

The Advent Collect:

Almighty God,
Give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light now in the time of this mortal life
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:

Lesson 2: Isaiah 9: 2-7

Choral Trio: Say, Where is He Born, from Christus, by Mendelssohn.

Lesson 3: Zechariah 9: 9-10

Choir: I know a Rose tree springing

Lesson 4: Luke 1: 26-38

Hymn: Gabriel’s Message

Lesson 5: Revelation 1: 4-8

Hymn: The Lion of Judah

Advent Reponsorial (Revd Canon Patrick Comerford):

The night is far spent, the day is at hand.
Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness
and put on the armour of light.
Come, O Lord, comfort the soul of your servant.

Even so, Lord, come.

The light of life send upon us;
the joy of peace send upon us;
the gladness of goodwill send upon us.

In judgment and justice draw near,
in your merciful loving kindness draw near,
with the blessing of peace draw near.

O wisdom of God, sweetly ordering all things,
flowing from the glory of the Almighty,
making all things new, kind to all,
making them the friends of God.

Come and comfort the soul of your servant,
for to you do I lift up my soul.

O Lord Jesus Christ, come
at evening time with light,

And in the morning with your glory,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.

He who receives our prayers says:
Surely I come quickly,
I am the root and offspring of David,
I am the bright and morning star.

Amen, Even so come, Lord Jesus.

Hymn: Come, thou long expected Jesus

Hymn: Light of the world

Closing Prayer:

O Lord God,
whose dwelling is the life of your children,
we give you thanks that you revealed yourself in our Lord Jesus,
and that the human community has been sanctified through his coming into the world.
Make us to know the joy of the Gospel,
which is hidden from the wise and prudent
and revealed to babes;
and this we ask through Jesus,
who in wearing our mortal flesh,
grew in wisdom with God and humanity.Amen.

The Blessing (The Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr John Neill)

May God the Father, who loved the world so much that he sent his only Son, give you grace to prepare for eternal life. Amen.

May God the Son, who comes to us as Redeemer and Judge, reveal to you that path from darkness to light. Amen.

May God the Holy Spirit, by whose working the Virgin Mary conceived the Christ, help you bear the fruits of holiness. Amen.

And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always. Amen.

Recessional Hymn: On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry

The Dismissal:

Musical Directors: Jack Kinkead, Johnny Campbell-Smyth, Catherine Wallace

Choir: Catherine Wallace, Caroline Mansley, Stephanie Woods; Paul Arbuthnot, Nicola Halford; Jason Kernohan, Johnny Campbell-Smyth, Alistair Morrison; Peter Ferguson, Paul Bogle, Richard Conlon

Readers: Lynne Gibson, Jane Bogle, Alexandra Elliott, John Scarffe, Lynda Levis, Bursar.

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