Friday, December 24, 2010

Nine Lessons and Carols, Part III: The Second Reading

God promises to faithful Abraham that in his seedshall all the nations of the earth be blessed.

GENESIS 22:15-18(ESV):

15 And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham
a second time from heaven

16 and said,
“By myself I have sworn,
declares the Lord,
because you have done this
and have not withheld your son, your only son,

17 "I will surely bless you,
and I will surely multiply your offspring
as the stars of heaven
and as the sand that is on the seashore.
And your offspring shall possess
the gate of his enemies,

18 "and in your offspring
shall all the nations
of the earth be blessed,
because you have obeyed my voice.”



JS Bach, BWV 1, "Nun komm der Heiden Heiland"


"Savior of the Nations, Come"

Savior of the nations, come;
Virgin’s Son, here make Thy home!
Marvel now, O heaven and earth,
That the Lord chose such a birth.

Not by human flesh and blood;
By the Spirit of our God
Was the Word of God made flesh,
Woman’s offspring, pure and fresh.

Wondrous birth! O wondrous Child
Of the virgin undefiled!
Though by all the world disowned,
Still to be in heaven enthroned.

From the Father forth He came
And returneth to the same,
Captive leading death and hell
High the song of triumph swell!

Thou, the Father’s only Son,
Hast over sin the victory won.
Boundless shall Thy kingdom be;
When shall we its glories see?

Brightly doth Thy manger shine,
Glorious is its light divine.
Let not sin o’ercloud this light;
Ever be our faith thus bright.

Praise to God the Father sing,
Praise to God the Son, our King,
Praise to God the Spirit be
Ever and eternally.


[The German carol, "Nun komm der Heiden Heiland," carries the English versification, "Savior of the Nations, Come." The text given for "Savior of the Nations, Come" is a different translation than the video. Also, all verses are given here, and select stanzas are used in the video.]

Nine Lessons and Carols, Part II: The First Reading

The first reading is recited by one of the boys in the choir. Each reading is preceded by a sentence or two about the text and a carol that relates to the reading follows.


God tells sinful Adam that he has lost the life of Paradise and that his seed will bruise the serpent’s head.

GENESIS 3:8-19 (ESV):

8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God
walking in the garden
in the cool of the day,
and the man and his wife hid themselves
from the presence of the Lord God
among the trees of the garden.

9 But the Lord God called to the man
and said to him,

“Where are you?”

10 And he said,

“I heard the sound of you in the garden,
and I was afraid, because I was naked,
and I hid myself.”

11 He said,

“Who told you that you were naked?
Have you eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you not to eat?”

12 The man said,

“The woman whom you gave to be with me,
she gave me fruit of the tree,
and I ate.”

13 Then the Lord God said to the woman,

“What is this that you have done?”

The woman said,

“The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.

15 "I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”

16 To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”

17 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

18 "thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.

19 "By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”



Boris Ord, "Adam Lay Ybounden"

Adam lay ybounden
Bounden in a bond;
Four thousand winter,
Thought he not too long.

And all was for an apple
An apple that he took.
As clerkes finden,
Written in their book.

Ne had the apple taken been
The apple taken been,
Ne had never our ladie,
Abeen heav'ne queen.

Blessed be the time
That apple taken was,
Therefore we moun singen.
Deo gracias!


JS Bach, BWV 637, "Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt"

Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt
Menschlich Natur und Wesen,
Dasselb Gift ist auf uns errebt,
Daß wir nicht mocht'n genesen
Ohn' Gottes Trost, der uns erlöst
Hat von dem großen Schaden,
Darein die Schlang Eva bezwang,
Gotts Zorn auf sich zu laden.


JS Bach, BWV 641, "Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein"

All mankind fell in Adam’s fall,
One common sin infects us all;
From sire to son the bane descends,
And over all the curse impends.

Through all man’s powers corruption creeps
And him in dreadful bondage keeps;
In guilt he draws his infant breath
And reaps its fruits of woe and death.

From hearts depraved, to evil prone,
Flow thoughts and deeds of sin alone;
God’s image lost, the darkened soul
Nor seeks nor finds its heav’nly goal.

But Christ, the second Adam, came
To bear our sin and woe and shame,
To be our Life, our Light, our Way,
Our only Hope, our only Stay.

As by one man all mankind fell
And, born in sin, was doomed to hell,
So by one Man, who took our place,
We all received the gift of grace.

We thank Thee, Christ; new life is ours,
New light, new hope, new strength, new powers:
This grace our every way attend
Until we reach our journey’s end!


The English translation into verse of "Durch Adam's Fall" is "All Mankind Fell." The English version is in a different meter, so the English speaking church uses a different tune.

Nine Lessons and Carols, Part I: Processional, Prayers and Blessing

The Service of Nine Lessons and Carols is a tradition that started at King's College in Cambridge, England, and has been adapted for denominations across the Christian spectrum.

On this Christmas Eve and Day, All for Hymn will present carols and lessons from one of these services. The 2010 service at King's College can be found here. Here on All for Hymn, the carols may differ, but the lessons will be the same.

The tradition is for the service to open with Once in Royal David's City. The first verse is sung as a solo by one of the boys in the choir. Each boy must be prepared for this, as he is chosen for the honor right before the procession.

"Once in Royal David's City"

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.

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 mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Savior holy.

And through all His wondrous childhood
He would honor and obey,
Love, and watch the lowly Maiden,
In whose gentle arms He lay;
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as He.

For He 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 feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness.

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.

Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him; but in heaven,
Set at God’s right hand on high;
When like stars his children crowned
All in white shall wait around.


A priest leads the congregation in the Bidding Prayer, the Lord's Prayer and a blessing. You can find them on pages 10 and 11 of this service folder.  After the blessing and before the first reading, a carol is sung. This carol sets the stage for the readings, which take us from the Fall of Man to the Birth of Christ.

"The Truth from Above"

This is the truth sent from above,
The truth of God, the God of love;
Therefore don’t turn me from your door,
But hearken all both rich and poor.

The first thing which I do relate
Is that God did man create;
The next thing which to you I’ll tell:
Woman was made with man to dwell.

Then after this ’twas God’s own choice
To place them both in Paradise,
There to remain from evil free,
Except they ate of such a tree.

And they did eat, which was a sin,
And thus their ruin did begin;
Ruined themselves, both you and me,
And all of their posterity.

Thus we were heirs to endless woes,
Till God the Lord did interpose,
And so a promise soon did run
That he would redeem us by his Son.

Nine Lessons and Carols on All for Hymn

The Service of Nine Lessons and Carols will be broadcast live from King's College, Cambridge, England, at 10:00 AM EST on

Can't make it for that? Here on All for Hymn you can catch readings and carols adapted for virtual form, starting at 6:00 PM EST, with consecutive posts every 3 hours through 9:00 PM EST on Christmas Day. The readings are pretty much the same, while some of the carols will differ.

Here's one of my favorites that didn't make it into the Virtual Nine Lessons and Carols:

Stephen Cleobury, "Infant Holy, Infant Lowly"

Infant holy,
Infant lowly,
For His bed a cattle stall;
Oxen lowing,
Little knowing,
Christ the Babe is Lord of all.
Swift are winging
Angels singing,
Noels ringing,
Tidings bringing:
Christ the Babe is Lord of all,
Christ the Babe is Lord of all.

Flocks were sleeping,
Shepherds keeping
vigil till the morning new;
Saw the glory,
Heard the story,
Tidings of a Gospel true.
Thus rejoicing,
Free from sorrow,
Praises voicing,
Greet the morrow:
Christ the Babe was born for you,
Christ the Babe was born for you.