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Advent 4 Lite Candles

Candlelight Christmas Eve Service

  • Date: Sunday, December 24, 2023
  • Time: 8:00pm9:00pm
  • Location: Sanctuary

Order of Worship

December 24, 2023 at 8 p.m.

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  • All Hail Most Joyful Day of Days, BWV 605,  setting by Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Prelude on the Sussex Carol, setting by Russel Schulz-Widmar
  • Bring a Torch, setting by Wayne L. Wold
  • Chorale Prelude on ‘In dulci jubilo,’ setting by Johann Michael Bach
  • Chorale Fantasia on ‘In dulci jubilo,’ BWV 729, setting by Johann Sebastian Bach

Processional: HYmn #140 (“One In Royal David’s City”

On the final verse, you are invited to rise in body or in spirit, joining the choir in song.

1. Once in royal David’s city
stood a lowly cattle shed,
where a mother laid her baby
in a manger for his bed:
Mary was that mother mild;
Jesus Christ, her little child.

2. He came down to earth from heaven
who is God and Lord of all,
and his shelter was a stable,
and his cradle was a stall;
with the poor and meek and lowly,
lived on earth our Savior holy.

3. Jesus is our childhood’s pattern;
day by day like us he grew;
he was little, weak and helpless;
tears and smiles like us he knew;
and he feels for all our sadness,
and he shares in all our gladness.

4. And our eyes at last shall see him,
through his own redeeming love;
for that child so dear and gentle
is our Lord in heaven above;
and he leads his children on
to the place where he is gone.

*Call to Worship

(The congregation responds aloud with the bold text)

The grace of God has appeared,
bringing salvation to all.
Glory to God in the highest!

For a child has been born for us,
a Son has been given to us.
Glory to God in the highest!

To us is born in the city of David a Savior,
the Messiah, the Lord.
Glory to God in the highest!

In him was life and his life is the light of all people.
Christ’s light still shines in the darkest places
and darkness shall not overcome it.

*Hymn #133, “O Come, All Ye Faithful”

1. O come, all ye faithful,
joyful and triumphant;
O come ye; O come ye to Bethlehem!
Come, and behold him,
born the King of angels!
O come, let us adore him;
O come, let us adore him;
O come, let us adore him,
Christ, the Lord!

2. True God from true God,
Light from light eternal,
born of a virgin, a mortal he comes;
very God, begotten, not created!
O come, let us adore him;
O come, let us adore him;
O come, let us adore him,
Christ, the Lord!

3. Sing, choirs of angels;
sing in exultation;
sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, all
glory in the highest!
O come, let us adore him;
O come, let us adore him;
O come, let us adore him,
Christ, the Lord!

4. Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be all glory given;
Word of the Father,
now in flesh appearing!
O come, let us adore him;
O come, let us adore him;
O come, let us adore him,
Christ, the Lord!

Lighting of the Christ candle

Opening Prayer

Holy One, as you came at night when all was still,
so enter our lives this night.

Illumine our paths with the light of Christ’s presence,
that we may clearly see
the way, the truth, and the life of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.


Christmas Joy Offering

This evening’s offering will be given to the Christmas Joy
Offering of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). This offering has been a cherished Presbyterian tradition since the 1930s. The offering is equally distributed between the denomination’s Assistance Program for church workers and colleges that equip communities of color.

In recognition of our commitment to God and our gratitude for all God
has given to us, we present our gifts, our offerings, and our tithes. In response
to this good news of great joy, we offer songs of praise, our offerings, these
gifts, our lives.

Prayer of Dedication

O God, we offer our gifts to you to further the promise of hope, peace, love, and justice in our community and in your world. Empower us, O God, to follow these gifts into the world around us so that they—and we—become bearers of your peace, love, and justice on the earth. Amen.

Music: God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen,
Arr. Molly Ijames

Prayer for Illumination

We would make room for you this night of all nights, dear Lord:
room in our minds and hearts;
room also in our lives, whether together or apart.

Let your word be born in us anew, so that,
by the power of the Holy Spirit, your splendor shines in us and through us.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Scripture: Isaiah 9:2b-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 exultation;
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.
Great will be his authority,
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.

Anthem: “How Sweet Is Love” (“Quam Dulcis Est Amor”), Michael Baget

A Child is born in Bethlehem; awaiteth Him all Jerusalem.
Amor, amor, quam dulcis est amor.

The angels above were singing then; below were rejoicing the shepherd men.
Amor, amor, quam dulcis est amor.

Now let us all with the angels sing; Yea, now let our hearts for gladness spring.
Amor, amor, quam dulcis est amor.

Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-4a, 6-9

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see
or decide by what his ears hear,
but with righteousness he shall judge for the poor
and decide with equity for the oppressed of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.

The wolf shall live with the lamb;
the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
the calf and the lion will feed together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

Hymn #158: “Born in the Night, Mary’s Child”

1. Born in the night, Mary’s Child,
a long way from your home;
coming in need, Mary’s Child,
born in a borrowed room.

2. Clear shining light, Mary’s Child,
your face lights up our way;
Light of the world, Mary’s Child,
dawn on our darkened day.

3. Truth of our life, Mary’s Child,
you tell us God is good;
yes, it is true, Mary’s Child,
shown on your cross of wood.

4. Hope of the world, Mary’s Child,
you’re coming soon to reign;
King of the earth, Mary’s Child,
walk in our streets again.

Scripture: Luke 1:26-35, 38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Hymn #113: “Angels We Have Heard On High”

1. Angels we have heard on high,
sweetly singing o’er the plains,
and the mountains in reply
echoing their joyous strains.
Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

2. Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
which inspire your heavenly song?
Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

3. Come to Bethlehem and see
him whose birth the angels sing;
come, adore on bended knee
Christ, the Lord, the newborn King.
Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Scripture: Luke 2:1-20

In those days a decree went out from Caesar 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 in the guest room.

Now in that same 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 Savior, 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 favors!”

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, and Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told them.

Meditation, Ken Kovacs

Hymn #134: “Joy to the World”

1. Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her king;
let every heart prepare him room,
and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven, and heaven and nature sing.

2. Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let all their songs employ,
while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

3. No more let sins and sorrows grow,
nor thorns infest the ground;
he comes to make his blessings flow
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found,
far as, far as the curse is found.

4. He rules the world with truth and grace,
and makes the nations prove
the glories of his righteousness
and wonders of his love,
and wonders of his love,
and wonders, wonders of his love.

Prayers of the People and the Lord’s Prayer

Glory to you, O God, for good news of great joy that you give to all people.
Thank you for Jesus Christ, Immanuel, who lived among us and now reigns on high. Thank you for his light that continues to shine in the places of darkness and shadow. With the angels we sing praise to you, celebrating your glory in all the earth, in the Son given to us, and in your promised salvation.

Hear your church, Holy One, as we pray for your church in every place,
that we may make known to others what has been told to us about Jesus,
the child born in Bethlehem.

O Christ, our Light,
hear our prayer.

We pray for the church…

With Mary, help us to treasure and ponder the gift that has been given to us, a gift of good news and great joy for all.

O Christ, our Light,
hear our prayer.

We pray for the world…

With the prophets, help us to proclaim the promise of your people
for all nations and your justice for all people.

O Christ, our Light,
hear our prayer.

We pray for this community…

With the shepherds, help us to keep watch over those entrusted to our care and all who need protection this night. For healthcare providers and hospital workers caring for the sick and dying. For those lonely and alone this night whether in a hospital room or at home, in a prison cell or in a shelter.

O Christ, our Light,
hear our prayer.

We pray for loved ones…

With angels, help us to offer signs of hope, comfort, and joy
for all who live in fear,
for all who are sad,
for all those missing loved ones on this holy night.

O Christ, our Light,
hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus Christ, hope of the world,
help us to bear witness to your light that shines
all the brighter when the world is dark.

Shine in our hearts and families and communities this night. And hear us in the prayer our Savior taught us, saying,

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 debts, as we forgive our debtors;
and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom and the power
and the glory, forever. Amen.

Anthem: “Love Came Down at Christmas,” K. Lee Scott

Love came down at Christmas, love all lovely, love divine;
love was born at Christmas: star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead, love incarnate, love divine;
worship we our Jesus, but wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token; love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and neighbor, love for plea and gift and sign.

Effluence of the Light: John 1:1-5, 14, 16

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. What has come 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 overtake it.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

Hymn #122: “Silent Night, Holy Night”

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 Thy holy face
with the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth!
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth!

4. Silent night! Holy night!
Wondrous star, lend thy light;
with the angels let us sing
“Alleluia” to our King:
“Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born.”


On this holy night,

May you be filled with the light of God,
filled with God’s life, God’s joy, God’s hope.

Do not be afraid;
this light, indestructible, shines in the darkness.

May the love of God enfold us,
the joy of Christ encompass us,
and the Holy Spirit empower us
and abide with us this night and forever.


Postlude: Festival Prelude on “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” Neil Harmon


  • Dorothy Boulton, Associate Pastor
  • Keith and Kathy Glennan, A/V Production
  • Wendy Johnston, Organist and Assistant Director of Music
  • Greg Knauf, Director of Music
  • Ken Kovacs, Pastor
  • Vickie Lord, Social media support
  • Ann Quinn, Clarinet
  • Natalia Vladimirova, Violin


  • Cover image: Missal of Eberhard von Greiffenklau (15th century), Nativity, The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD
  • Book of Common Worship (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2018).
  • Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013).
  • Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained from One License with license #A-734388; CCLI Copyright License B 20481088 + Streaming License B 481071


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