20 December 2020


The Christmas Crib outside Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, last year (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)


Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton,
3 p.m. Sunday 20 December 2020

The Fourth Sunday of Advent

Welcome (and important notes):

1, Please wear your facemask throughout this service;
2, Please leave your name and number (to be used for contact and tracing purposes only);
3, Please listen to, but do not join the hymns;
4, Please leave from the back seats first, without gathering in the church.

Opening Hymn: 177,
‘Once in royal David’s city’
(CF Alexander; melody, HJ Gauntlett).

Bidding Prayer:
(Canon Patrick Comerford)

Beloved, be it this Christmas Time our care and delight to prepare ourselves to hear again the message of the angels; 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.

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; and let us make this Church, dedicated to Mary, his most blessed Mother, glad with our carols of praise:

But first let us pray for the needs of his whole world; for peace and goodwill over all the earth; for unity and brotherhood within the Church he came to build, and especially in this our land, Ireland:

And because this of all things would rejoice his heart, let us at this time remember in his name the poor and the helpless, the cold, the hungry and the oppressed; the sick in body and in mind and those who mourn; the lonely and the unloved; the aged and the little children; all 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 one can number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom, in this Lord Jesus, we for evermore are one.

These prayers and praises let us humbly offer up to the throne of heaven, in the words which Christ himself has taught us:

Our Father …

Carol 1: 155, Ding Dong! merrily on high (George Ratcliffe Woodward; melody Thoinot Arbeau).

Lesson 1

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. … All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee … 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.

Carol 2: 135, O come, O come, Emmanuel (tr John Mason Neale; melody, Thomas Helmore).

Lesson 2

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.

Carol 3: 133, Long ago, prophets knew
(F Pratt Green; melody, Piae Cantiones).

Lesson 3

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 great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, 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 heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’

Carol 4: 174, O little town of Bethlehem (Philips Brooks, melody arranged by Vaughan Williams).

Lesson 4

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

Carol 5: 160, Hark! the herald-angels sing (Charles Wesley and George Whitefield; music, Felix Mendelssohn).

Lesson 5

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Carol 6: 164, It came upon the midnight clear (EH Sears, traditional melody, Arthur Sullivan).

Lesson 6

After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Carol 7: 158, God rest you merry gentlemen (English traditional).

Lesson 7

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every first-born male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’

Carol 8: 152, ‘Come and join the celebration’ (Valerie Collison).

Lesson 8

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout … Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God … And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’

Carol 9: 149, Away in a manger
(WJ Kirkpatrick).

Lesson 9

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age … At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Hymn: 162, In the bleak mid-winter
(Christina Rossetti; music, Gustav Holst).

Collect and Blessing:

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Let us pray.

O God, who makes us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of your only son, Jesus Christ: Grant that as we joyfully receive him for our redeemer, so we may with sure confidence behold him, when he shall come to be our judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

Christ, who by his incarnation gathered into one things earthly and heavenly,
grant you the fullness of inward peace and goodwill, and make you partakers of the divine nature;

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

Hymn: 172, O come, all ye faithful (Adeste Fideles), translated, Frederick Oakeley; melody John F Wade.

Part of this afternoon’s retiring collection is being divided among a number of agencies and funds supported by the parish. They include: The Church of Ireland Bishops’ Appeal Fund, Christian Aid, the Leprosy Mission, Limerick Protestant Orphan Society, Rathkeale No 2 National School, and the United Society Partners in the Gospel (USPG).

Christmas Eucharist:

Thursday 24 December: 6 p.m., Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin (Tarbert); 8 p.m., Castletown Church (please note revised times).

Christmas Day, Friday 25 December: 9.30 a.m., Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton; 11 a.m., Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale.

Sunday 27 December (Christmas 1, Saint John the Evangelist):

11 a.m., United Parish Service, Rathkeale (Morning Prayer with Siobhán Wheeler, Parish Reader)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Material from the Book of Common Prayer is copyright © 2004, Representative Body of the Church of Ireland.

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