• Iain McLarty

Christmas 1B

Isaiah 61:10 - 62:3

Psalm 148

Galatians 4:4-7

Luke 2:22-40


We are still in the Christmas season so if you managed to stick with Advent songs before Christmas then this is now a good opportunity to sing more of the well loved carols as well as singing songs related to the lectionary readings.


You can find a YouTube playlist here with many of the songs suggested below.



Gathering


The readings from Isaiah and the Psalms offer us lots of opportunity to sing songs of praise and it’s worth emphasising that it is all of creation singing praise in these readings. The best thing is to use songs which are “heart songs” in your congregation but well known ones which relate to the readings are All creatures of our God and King (CH 147 / MP 7), Praise the Lord, his glories show (CH 152), Creation Sings the Father's Song (MP 1268 / CCLI / Getty) and Indescribable (MP 1170 / CCLI). If the tune doesn’t seem like it is making too much of a political point then you could also consider Joyful, joyful, we adore thee (Hymnary)


If you want to begin with a more seasonal carol then Angel’s from the realms of glory (CH 324 / MP 35) could be a good option as it summarises the Christmas story but culminates with “all creation, join in singing” with the option of a contemporary version by Brenton Brown (CCLI). Joy to the world (CH 320 / MP 393) has the song of heaven and song of earth joining together and there are contemporary versions by Phil Wickham (CCLI) and Chris Tomlin (CCLI). Good Christians, all rejoice (CH 322 / CP 70) might lead towards the Epistle or the Gospel well as it moves from “Christ is born today” to “Christ was born to save”.



Word


This week’s psalm has settings in a full range of styles. The Lord of heaven confess (CH 104) is a straightforward metrical setting, Glory to God above (CH 105) is a lively Wild Goose original with some simple harmony parts, All you works of God (CH 151) has a bright chorus and then some call and response in the verses, while Let Creation Sing (CCLI) would suit those looking for a worship song.


In the Gospel passage we find one of the great canticles - the Song of Simeon, sometimes known as the Nunc Dimittis. It can always add extra meaning to actually sing bits of scripture like this rather than just read them. Now, Lord! according to thy word (CH 333) is a fairly straightforward metrical setting which could be sung by a congregation while Now, Lord, you let your servant go (PFAS p1024) is a jazzier version better suited to a soloist or group of singers. Go now in peace (PFAS p1028) is halfway between these and could be very atmospheric, with a short repeated refrain for the congregation which a soloist sings the canticle over.



Response


Both the Gospel and the Epistle this week move us on from a simple narrative of the Christmas story to looking at the impact of Christ’s birth for us. There are a number of songs written which directly relate to the Gospel such as Simeon’s song (WGRG), When to the temple (WGRG) and When Mary brought her treasure (CH 332) while Jesus hope of every nation (Jubilate) picks up the themes of waiting and light. One interesting aspect of this reading is that the focus is generally exclusively on Simeon but if you want to consider the women such as Anna who get left on the margins then There is a line of women (WGRG) notes her important place alongside many other women in the Bible.


Galatians offers themes of freedom and being a child of God and No longer slaves (CCLI) connects with both of those while other options include Live into hope of captives freed (link), The Lord created families (CH 684) and O God, we bear the imprint of your face (CH 254).


You might also want a more general seasonal song at this point and Lord, you were rich beyond all splendour (CH 318 / CP 131) is a beautiful song often sung by choirs but very accessible for congregations, while Adore (CCLI / Common) has a chorus which could be picked up easily even if the full song was too much to learn.



Sending


King Of Kings (CCLI) ties together many of the themes from today’s readings while You shall go out with joy (CH 804 / MP 796) picks up on idea of all of creation praising God. As with the opening song you could sing a seasonal carol here and It came upon the midnight clear (CH 303 / MP 345) or See in yonder manger low (CH 313) both have some links with themes from this week’s readings.



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