Monday, December 24, 2012

Lessons and Carols, 8

At King's College chapel, on Christmas Eve, you will hear a sequence of readers. Beginning with a boy chorister, the readers advance in age and "status" until the final reading from the Provost of the University. (The Lord Mayor of Cambridge makes an appearance somewhere along the way.) I love that pattern, what is does for inclusivity, and how it provides a sense of movement as the revelation, the story, unfolds. In our setting at College Church we have done something like, but ending with a staff pastor in the final Lesson. I think any opportunity to read scripture is a privilege, and would be happy to draw any of those straws.

Eighth Reading: Matthew 2:1-12

Eighth Carol: Three Kings
text: Laurence Housman
music: Healey Willan
     "Who knocks tonight so late?"
     the weary porter said.
     Three kings stood at the gate,
     each with a crown on head.
        The serving man bowed down,
        the Inn was full, he knew.
        Said he, "In all this town
        is no fit place for you."
     A light in the manger lit;
     there lay the Mother meek.
     This place is fit.
     Here is the rest we seek.
        Come, come. They loosed their latchet strings,
        so stood they all unshod
        "Come in, come in, ye kings,
        and kiss the feet of God."

Eighth Hymn: Of the Father's Love Begotten
At College Church we began using this hymn - one of the most ancient of Christian hymns still in common use - as a musical context for the congregation to recite the Nicene Creed in the Christmas Eve service. They are, indeed, hand in glove.

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