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Carols sung by the Choir


The carol’s anonymous lyrics are thought to date from 1882. The words are based on Luke’s Gospel, chapter 2, verses 4 to 7. It was long claimed that the lyrics were the work of the German religious reformer Martin Luther but it is now thought that the words are wholly American in origin. Tonight, the choir will sing these familiar words to a traditional Normandy tune. The music arrangement is by the English organist and conductor Reginald Jacques (1894-1969) who, together with David Willcocks (1919-2015), compiled the first three volumes of ‘Carols for Choirs’, a popular series of carol books.


The words of this carol date from the 15th century. The music was written by the composer and music critic Philip Arnold Heseltine (1894-1930) who was known by the pseudonym Peter Warlock. The Warlock name was used for all his published musical works.


The lyrics of this carol were written by the English poet Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) and the music was written by the English composer Gustav Holst (1874-1934). Tonight’s arrangement, by the American composer Mack Wilberg (b. 1955), was published in 2011.


The title ‘In dulci jubilo’ is Latin for ‘In sweet rejoicing’. This traditional German carol originally included both German and Latin text. However, this evening’s arrangement includes an English translation of the German text written by Robert Pearsall (1795-1856). The music is a 14th century German melody which has been arranged by the English composer Bob Chilcott (b. 1955).


The words and music of this carol were written by the English composer, conductor, editor and arranger, John Rutter (b. 1945). He studied music at Clare College, Cambridge and, while he was still an undergraduate there, he had his first compositions published including ‘Shepherds Pipe Carol’.


The carol’s anonymous 15th century lyrics are set to an Irish folk song melody that was harmonised by the Armagh-born composer and teacher Charles Wood (1866-1926). This arrangement, written for upper voices and organ, was composed by the English organist Harrison Oxley (1933-2009). He was appointed Director of Music of St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Suffolk aged 24 and was, at that time, the youngest cathedral organist in the country. Harrison Oxley was also the first cathedral organist in England to supplement the boys’ voices of the cathedral choir with those of girls.


The English writer, and church bell-ringing enthusiast, George Woodward (1848-1934) wrote this carol’s well-known English lyrics in the early 1900s. The carol melody was first composed as a secular dance tune in the 1500s by the French cleric, composer and writer, Jehan Tabourot (1520-1595). This music arrangement is by the organist Stuart Nicholson (b. 1975) who is Master of the Music at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.

Festival of Lessons and Carols

Our worship begins at the sound of the bell. Please stand as the choir and the sacred ministers enter.

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 Saviour holy.

And our eyes at last shall see him,
Through his own redeeming love,
For that child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heav’n 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.

Words: Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895)
Music: Henry John Gauntlett (1805-1876)
Verses 1-3 harmonised by Arthur Henry Mann (1850-1929)
Verse 4 arranged by David Valentine Willcocks (1919-2015)

Bidding Prayer

Please remain standing.

Beloved in Christ, be it this Christmas-tide our care and delight to hear again the message of the angels, and 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.

Therefore, 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.

But first, let us pray for the needs of the whole world; for peace on earth and goodwill among all his people; for unity and brotherhood within the Church he came to build, and especially in this city and diocese.

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

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

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 trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.

Away in a manger

Sung by the Choir.

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus! Look down from the sky,
And stay by my side until morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
Close by me for ever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven, to live with thee there.

Words: Anonymous
Music: Traditional Normandy tune
arranged by Thomas Reginald Jacques (1894-1969)


Please stand.

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold:
‘Peace on the earth, goodwill to men,
From heav’n’s all-gracious King!’
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring:
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing!

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet-bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendours fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

Words: Edmund Hamilton Sears (1810-1876)
Music: English traditional melody
adapted by Arthur Seymour Sullivan (1842-1900)

Lesson: Genesis 3.8-14

Please sit.

The Fall

Read by Melvin Herring
Church Warden, St Mary’s Church, Whitkirk

Adam lay ybounden

Sung by the Choir.

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 clerkès finden
Written in their book.

Ne had the apple taken been,
The apple taken been,
Ne had never our lady
A-been heavenè queen.

Blessèd be the time
That apple taken was.
Therefore we moun singen:
Deo gracias!

Words: 15th century
Music: Peter Warlock (1894-1930)

Lesson: Isaiah 9.2,6,7

The prophecy of the Messiah’s birth

Read by Darcy Marson
Year 4 Pupil, Whitkirk Primary School

In the bleak mid-winter

Sung by the Choir.

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, heav’n cannot hold him
Nor earth sustain;
Heav’n and earth shall flee away
When he comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty
Jesus Christ.

What can I give him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give him,
Give my heart.

Yet what I can I give him:
Give my heart, my heart.

Words: Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894)
Music: Gustav Theodore Holst (1874-1934
arranged by Mack Wilberg (b. 1955)


Please stand.

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

How silently, how silently,
The wondrous gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of his heav’n.
No ear may hear his coming;
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him, still
The dear Christ enters in.

O Holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in,
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell:
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel.

Words: Phillips Brooks (1835-1893)
Music: English traditional melody
Verses 1 & 2 arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958
Verse 3 arranged by Thomas Henry Armstrong (1898-1994)

Lesson: Luke 1.26-38

Please sit.

The Annunciation to Mary

Read by Diane Griffiths
Volunteer, Whitkirk Silver Lining Luncheon Club


Please stand.

The angel Gabriel from heaven came,
His wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame:
‘All hail,’ said he, ‘thou lowly maiden Mary,
Most highly favoured lady!’ Gloria!

‘For known a blessèd Mother thou shalt be;
All generations laud and honour thee:
Thy son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold.
Most highly favoured lady!’ Gloria!

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head;
‘To me be as it pleaseth God!’ she said.
‘My soul shall laud and magnify his holy name.’
Most highly favoured lady! Gloria!

Of her Emmanuel, the Christ, was born,
In Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn;
And Christian folk throughout the world will ever say:
Most highly favoured lady! Gloria!

Words: Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924)
Music: Basque traditional melody
arranged by Edgar Pettman (1866-1943)

Lesson: Luke 2.1-7

Please sit.

The birth of Jesus

Read by Emma Turnpenny
Funeral Director, Co-operative Funeralcare, Whitkirk

In dulci jubilo

Sung by the Choir.

In dulci jubilo, Let us our homage shew;
Our heart’s joy reclineth In praesepio,
And like a bright star shineth Matris in gremio.
Alpha es et O, Alpha es et O!

O Jesu parvule! My heart is sore for thee!
Hear me, I beseech thee, O Puer optime!
My prayer let it reach thee, O Princeps gloriae!
Trahe me post te, Trahe me post te!

O Patris caritas, O Nati lenitas!
Deeply were we stainèd Per nostra crimina;
But thou hast for us gainèd Coelorum gaudia,
O that we were there, O that we were there!

Ubi sunt gaudia, If that they be not there?
There are angels singing Nova cantica,
There the bells are ringing In Regis curia:
O that we were there, O that we were there!

Words: English text translated from German
by Robert Lucas Pearsall (1795-1856)
Music: 14th century German carol
arranged by Bob Chilcott (b. 1955)


Please stand.

Unto us is born a Son,
King of quires supernal:
See on earth his life begun,
Of lords the Lord eternal.
Of lord the Lord eternal.

Christ, from heav’n descending low,
Comes on earth a stranger;
Ox and ass their owner know,
Be-cradled in the manger,
Be-cradled in the manger.

Of his love and mercy mild
This the Christmas story;
And O that Mary’s gentle Child
Might lead us up to glory,
Might lead us up to glory!

O and A, and A and O,
Cum cantibus in choro,
Let our merry organ go,
Benedicamus Domino,
Benedicamus Domino.

Words & Music: from ‘Piae Cantiones’ (1582)
English translation: George Ratcliffe Woodward (1848-1934
Music arrangement: David Valentine Willcocks (1919-2015)

Lesson: Luke 2.8-16

Please sit.

The shepherds go to the manger

Read by Mark Songhurst
Programme Manager, Scan4Safety,
The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Christmas lullaby

Sung by the Choir.

Clear in the darkness a light shines in Bethlehem:
Angels are singing, their sound fills the air.
Wise men have journeyed to greet their Messiah;
But only a mother and baby lie there.

‘Ave Maria, ave Maria’:
Hear the soft lullaby the angel hosts sing.
‘Ave Maria, ave Maria,
Maiden, and mother of Jesus our King’.

Where are his courtiers, and who are his people?
Why does he bear neither sceptre nor crown?
Shepherds his courtiers, the poor for his people,
With peace as his sceptre and love for his crown.

‘Ave Maria, ave Maria’:
Hear the soft lullaby the angel hosts sing.
‘Ave Maria, ave Maria,
Maiden, and mother of Jesus our King’.

What though your treasures are not gold or incense?
Lay them before him with hearts full of love.
Praise to the Christ child, and praise to his mother
Who bore us a Saviour by grace from above.

‘Ave Maria, ave Maria’:
Hear the soft lullaby the angel hosts sing.
‘Ave Maria, ave Maria,
Maiden, and mother of Jesus our King’.

Words & Music: John Milford Rutter (b. 1945)


Please stand.

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.

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds first saw the sight:
Glories stream from heav’n afar,
Heav’nly hosts sing Alleluia:
Christ the Saviour is born,
Christ the Saviour is born!

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love’s pure light;
Radiance beams from thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace.
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

Words: Joseph Mohr (1792-1848)
translated by John Freeman Young (1820-1885)
Music: Franz Xaver Gruber (1787-1863)
arranged by Bob Chilcott (b. 1955)

Lesson: Matthew 2.1-11

Please sit.

The magi are led by the star to Jesus

Read by Caroline Johnson
Head Teacher, Colton Primary School

Mater ora filium

Sung by the Choir.

Mater ora filium,
Ut post hoc exilium
Nobis donet gaudium
Beatorum omnium.

Fair maiden, who is this bairn
That thou bearest in thine arm?
Sir, it is a Kingës Son
That in heav’n above doth won.

Man to Father he hath none,
But himself God alone;
Of a maid he would be born,
To save mankind that was forlorn.

Mater ora filium,
Ut post hoc exilium
Nobis donet gaudium
Beatorum omnium.

Three kings brought him presents,
Gold, myrrh, and frankincense,
To my Son full of might,
King of kings and lord of right.

Mater ora filium,
Ut post hoc exilium
Nobis donet gaudium
Beatorum omnium.

Fair maiden, pray for us
Unto thy Son, sweet Jesus,
That he will send us of his grace
In heav’n on high to have a place.

Mater ora filium,
Ut post hoc exilium
Nobis donet gaudium
Beatorum omnium.

Words: Anonymous 15th century text
Music: Irish folk song harmonised by Charles Wood (1866-1926)
arranged by Thomas Frederick Harrison Oxley (1933-2009)


Please stand.

We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star:
O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Born a king on Bethlehem plain,
Gold I bring, to crown him again —
King for ever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign:
O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense owns a deity nigh:
Prayer and praising, all men raising,
Worship him, God most high:
O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb:
O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Glorious now, behold him arise,
King, and God, and sacrifice!
Heav’n sings alleluia,
Alleluia the earth replies:
O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Words & Music: John Henry Hopkins (1820-1891)
arranged by David Valentine Willcocks (1919-2015)

Lesson: John 1.1-14

Please remain standing.

The Incarnation of the Word of God

Read by The Reverend Canon Rosemarie Hayes
Retired priest and member of the congregation at St Mary’s Church, Whitkirk

Ding dong! merrily on high

Sung by the Choir.

Please sit.

Ding dong! merrily on high,
In heav’n the bells are ringing.
Ding dong! verily the sky
Is riv’n with angels singing.
Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!
Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!

E’en so here below, below,
Let steeple bells be swungen,
And i-o, i-o, i-o,
By priest and people sungen.
Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!
Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!

Pray you, dutifully prime
Your matin chime, ye ringers;
May you beautifully rime
Your evetime song, ye singers.
Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!
Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!
In excelsis!
Hosanna in excelsis!

Words: George Ratcliffe Woodward (1848-1934)
Music: 16th century French melody
arranged by Stuart Nicholson (b. 1975)


During the next carol a collection, our financial offering in support of the work of the Church both at St. Mary’s and across our diocese, is taken.

You can place cash or giving envelopes in the collection plates as they are passed around. If you would prefer, or if you miss the plate, you can also give by tapping your contactless card or device on the giving plate by the door as you leave, or on our donations page.

Please stand.

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!

God of God,
Light of Light,
Lo! he abhors not the Virgin’s womb;
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!

Child, for us sinners
Poor and in the manger,
Fain we embrace thee, with awe and love;
Who would not love thee,
Loving us so dearly?
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord!

Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of heav’n above;
Glory to God
In the highest:
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord!

Words: John Francis Wade (1711-1786)
translated by Frederick Oakley (1802-1880) and others
Music: John Francis Wade (1711-1786)
arranged by David Valentine Willcocks (1919-2015)

The Collect for Christmas Eve

Please remain standing.

Almighty God, you make us glad
with the yearly remembrance
of the birth of your Son, Jesus Christ:
grant that, as we joyfully receive him as our redeemer,
so we may with sure confidence behold him
when he shall come to be our judge;
who is alive and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


The Blessing

May he who by his Incarnation
gathered into one things earthly and heavenly,
fill you with the sweetness
of inward peace and goodwill;
and the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be upon you and remain with you always.



Hark! the herald-angels sing
Glory to the new-born King;
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled:
Joyful all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies,
With th’angelic host proclaim,
Christ is born in Bethlehem:
Hark! the herald-angels sing
Glory to the new-born King.

Christ, by highest heav’n adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
Late in time behold him come
Offspring of a virgin’s womb:
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
Hail the incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with man to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel:
Hark! the herald-angels sing
Glory to the new-born King.

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Ris’n with healing in his wings;
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth:
Hark! the herald-angels sing
Glory to the new-born King.

Words: Charles Wesley (1707-1788) and others
Music: Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Verse 3 arranged by David Valentine Willcocks (1919-2015)

Please make your way across to St Mary’s Church Whitkirk Community Centre for tea, coffee, mulled wine and mince pies.

Please join us again for worship over the Christmas season.

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