Saturday, December 25, 2021

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day, 10:30 a.m.

 The livestream may be found here.

Prisoner’s Madonna, Kurt Reuber, 1943

‘Christmas 1943: Light, Love, Life’


                                                      All Hail to You, O Blessed Morn                                                                                                                     I. J.C. Bach 

     II. Paul Manz


          Where Shepherds Lately Knelt

         Text/ Jaroslav J. Vajda; Music/ Carl Schalk


Where shepherds lately knelt and kept the angel’s word,

I come in half-belief, a pilgrim strangely stirred;

But there is room and welcome there for me.


In that unlikely place I find him as they said:       

Sweet, newborn Babe, and in a manger bed:

A still small Voice to cry one day for me.


How should I not have known Isaiah would be there,

His prophecies fulfilled? With pounding heart, I stare:

A Child, a Son, the Prince of Peace, for me.


Can I, will I forget how Love was born

And burned its way into my heart: unasked, unforced, unearned,

To live and die, and not alone for me.




HYMN                All Hail to You, O Blessed Morn!                                    Green LBW 73

1      All hail to you, O blessed morn!

        To tidings long by prophets borne

        fulfillment you have given.

        Oh, greatest and most blessed day

        when unto earth in glorious ray

        shone out the grace of heaven!

        Young and old their voices blending,

        praises sending unto heaven

        for this noblest of earth’s children!


2      True God, the Father’s Son, is he;

        yet truly one of us, that we

        might find in him a brother.

        He comes with peace and love to live

        on earth, our erring race to give

        such help as could no other,

        seeking, caring for the loveless

        and the hopeless, all the lost ones

        thirsting for unfailing fountains.


3      He will, like us, shed bitter tears,

        will know our needs, yet still our fears

        and send his Spirit’s power.

        He will reveal his Father’s will,

        our cup of woe with mercy fill

        to sweeten sorrow’s hour.

        Struggling, suff’ring, he, by dying,

        dearly buying our salvation,

        opens wide the gates of heaven!


4     For our redemption still he comes.

        In him shines, like a thousand suns,

        God’s mercy, clouded never!

        Now all who will on him believe,

        who follow him, he will receive

        and as his flock will gather.

        He will guide us, walk beside us,

        and uphold us, till in heaven

        we shall be like him forever!


Text: Johan Olof Wallin, 1779-1839; tr. Lutheran Book of Worship, 1978© 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship, admin. Augsburg Fortress



Long ago God spoke to our ancestors by the prophets;

  But in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son.


The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion

of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

  And also with you.



A             In peace, let us pray to the Lord.


C             Lord, have mercy.


A             For the peace from above, and for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord.


C             Lord, have mercy.


A             For the peace of the whole world, for the well-being of the Church of God, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord.


C             Lord, have mercy.


A             For this holy house, and for all who offer here their worship and praise, let us pray to the Lord.


C             Lord, have mercy.


A             Help, save, comfort, and defend us, gracious Lord.


C             Amen


HYMN OF PRAISE       Hark, the Herald Angels Sing                      Green LBW 60

 1      Hark! The herald angels sing,

        "Glory to the newborn king;

        peace on earth, and mercy mild,

        God and sinners reconciled."

        Joyful, all you nations, rise;

        join the triumph of the skies;

        with angelic hosts proclaim,

        "Christ is born in Bethlehem!"



        Hark! The herald angels sing,

        "Glory to the newborn king!"


2      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, incarnate deity!

        Pleased as man with us to dwell,

        Jesus, our Emmanuel!  Refrain


3      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 we no more may die,

        born to raise each child of earth,

        born to give us second birth.  Refrain


Text: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788, alt.





P              The Lord be with you.


C             And also with you.


P              Let us pray. . . .

Almighty God, you wonderfully created and yet more wonderfully restored the dignity of human nature. In your mercy, let us share the divine life of Jesus Christ who came to share our humanity, and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.




First Reading           Isaiah 52: 7-10


7How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, "Your God reigns."
8Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices,
together they sing for joy;
for in plain sight they see
the return of the LORD to Zion.
9Break forth together into singing,
you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the LORD has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10The LORD has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations;
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.


The Word of the Lord.                                                  

  Thanks be to God.


X HYMN            Joy to the World!                            Green LBW 39


 1      Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

        Let earth receive her king;

        let ev'ry heart prepare him room

        and heav'n and nature sing,

        and heav'n and nature sing,

        and heav'n, and heav'n 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 sin and sorrow 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.


Text: Isaac Watts, 1674-1748



Second Reading     Hebrews 1:1–12


Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets,  2but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.  3He is the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,  4having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

                 5For to which of the angels did God ever say,

                "You are my Son; today I have begotten you"?

Or again,

                "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son"?

  6And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,

                "Let all God's angels worship him."

  7Of the angels he says,

                "He makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire."

  8But of the Son he says,

                "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,

                and the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom.

  9You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;

                therefore God, your God, has anointed you

                with the oil of gladness beyond your companions."


                "In the beginning, Lord, you founded the earth,

                and the heavens are the work of your hands;

  11they will perish, but you remain;

                they will all wear out like clothing;

  12like a cloak you will roll them up,

                and like clothing they will be changed.

                But you are the same, and your years will never end."



The Word of the Lord.

  Thanks be to God.




VERSE     Psalm 2:7                                  Setting by Robert Wetzler  

Sung by the choir

Alleluia. The Lord said to me, “You are my son, today have I begotten you.” Alleluia.


GOspel:            John 1:1–14


The Holy Gospel according to  St. John.

C             Glory to you, O Lord.


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  2He was in the beginning with God.  3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

                 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.  8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.  9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

                 10He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.  11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.  12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God,  13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

                 14And 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.


The Gospel of the Lord.                                               

C             Praise to you, O Christ.





HYMN OF THE DAY           

All Praise to You, Eternal Lord                      Green LBW 48

Stanzas 1 and 3, choir

 1      All praise to you, eternal Lord,

        clothed in garb of flesh and blood,

        a manger choosing for a throne

        while worlds on worlds are yours alone.



2      God’s Son to whom the heavens bow,

        cradled by a virgin now,

        we listen for your infant voice

        while angels in your heav’n rejoice.



3      A little child, you came our guest,

        all the weary to give rest!

        Forlorn and lowly was your birth

        that we might rise to heav’n from earth!



4     Your coming in the darkest night

        makes us children of the light,

        enabling us in realms divine

        like all your angels bright to shine!



5      All this for us your love has done!

        Thus our love for you is won!

        for this with joy our songs we sing,

        incessant praises echoing!



Text: German hymn, 1370, st. 1; Martin Luther, 1483-1546, sts. 2-5; tr. composite



The pastor and people confess the faith of the Church in the words of the Nicene Creed.


X At the words ‘For us and for our salvation,’ and continuing through ‘and was made man,’ 

a solemn bow is appropriate to praise God for the incarnation of our Lord.



                We believe in one God,

                the Father, the Almighty,            

                                maker of heaven and earth,

                                of all that is, seen and unseen.


We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

                the only Son of God,

                eternally begotten of the Father,

                God from God, Light from Light,

                true God from true God,

                begotten, not made,

                of one Being with the Father.

                Through him all things were made.

                X For us and for our salvation

                                he came down from heaven;

                                by the power of the Holy Spirit

                                he became incarnate from the virgin Mary,                                                       and was made man. X

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

                                he suffered death and was buried.

                                On the third day he rose again

                                                in accordance with the Scriptures;

                                he ascended into heaven

                                                and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

                He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,

                                and his kingdom will have no end.


We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

                who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

                With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.

                He has spoken through the prophets.

                We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

                We acknowledge one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

                We look for the resurrection of the dead,

                                and the life of the world to come. Amen




Rejoicing in the light of the Word made flesh, let us pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus, and for all people according to their needs.


We bless you, O God, for the Word who is before time and beyond time has stepped into time, full of grace and truth. We praise you for the Light of Jesus in this dark world. Help us to bear witness to the Light with joyful lips and renewed hearts. Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


We praise you, O God, for your holy Word descends to us today in the words of the Scripture, the proclamation of the Gospel, and the gifts of bread and wine. Just as shepherds knelt before Jesus in the manger, help us to receive him today with reverence and awe. Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


We thank you, O God, for the celebration of this feast in every culture around the world. We extol you for the rich diversity of music and song which lauds the incarnation of your Word. Give peace, we pray, to all nations, for you offer it to all in Jesus Christ. Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


We plead, O God, for the members of our armed forces far away from loved ones on this holy day; for those who grieve fresh losses amidst the festivity of the world; for those who toil and labor in hospitals, nursing homes, and as first responders; for those who are exiled from home; for those in prisons of their own or of others’ making; for those who are in need of body, mind, or spirit, and for those who do not know the joy of Christ’s birth. For the sake of your Son, whom you sent to share our life, speedily come to their aid. Hear now our prayers for those we name aloud or in the silence of our hearts…


The People may offer silent or spoken intercessions and thanksgivings.

Lord, in your mercy,                                                       

  hear our prayer.






We extol you, O God, for the great cloud of witnesses who have celebrated your Son’s birth in the past and who now behold him face to face in his kingly brightness. We bless you for those who in former years shared in this feast with us, and we trust that they rejoice today in your great love. Bring us with them to that feast which knows no end. Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


Into your hands, Father, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your steadfast love, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.





The peace of the Lord be with you always. 

  And also with you. 


The people exchange a sign of peace with the simple words, Peace be with you.



The Lord’s Table is prepared.



OFFERTORY     Psalm 2:7, Psalm 110:3           Setting by Robert Wetzler

Sung by the choir

The Lord said to me, “You are my son, today have I begotten you.” At birth you were endowed with princely gifts and resplendent in holiness. You have shone with the dew of youth since your mother bore you.



Hear us, O Lord Jesus Christ, from your dwelling place,

from the glorious throne of your kingdom, and come and cleanse us.

  You are seated on high with the Father,

  and you dwell also with us here, although unseen.

By your mighty hand render us worthy to receive in holy communion

your spotless body and your precious blood.







The Lord be with you.                                   

  And also with you.                     

Lift up your hearts.                                         

  We lift them to the Lord.                        

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.                                  

  It is right to give him thanks and praise.


We give you thanks, Father,

through Jesus Christ, your beloved Son,

                whom you sent in this end of the ages

                to save and redeem us and to proclaim to us your will.


He is your Word,

                inseparable from you.

Through him you created all things,

                and in him you take delight.


He is your Word,

                sent from heaven to a virgin's womb.

He there took on our nature and our lot

                and was shown forth as your Son,

                born of the Holy Spirit and of the virgin Mary.


It is he, our Lord Jesus, who fulfilled all your will

                and won for you a holy people;

                he stretched out his hands in suffering

                in order to free from suffering those who trust you.


It is he who, handed over to a death he freely accepted,

                in order to destroy death, to break the bonds of the evil one,

                to crush hell underfoot, to give light to the righteous,

                to establish his covenant, and to show forth the resurrection,

                taking bread and giving thanks to you, said:

                Take and eat; this is my body, broken for you.

                Do this for the remembrance of me.


In the same way he took the cup, gave thanks,

                and gave it for all to drink, saying:

                This is my blood poured out for you.

                Do this for the remembrance of me.


Remembering, then, his death and resurrection,

                we lift this bread and cup before you,

                giving you thanks that you have made us worthy

                to stand before you and to serve you as your priestly people.


And we ask you:

                Send your Spirit upon these gifts of your Church;

                gather into one all who share this bread and wine;

                fill us with your Holy Spirit to establish our faith in truth,

                that we may praise and glorify you

 through your Son Jesus Christ.


Through him all glory and honor are yours,

                Almighty Father, with the Holy Spirit,

                in your holy Church both now and forever.



Christ is in our midst.

                By the power of the Spirit,

                we pray to his Father, 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 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, and the power, and the glory,

                                forever and ever. Amen


The mystery hidden for the ages

is revealed for us in this meal.

Come, behold and receive your God.

  Thanks be to God.




We adore Christ with the words of the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).


C             Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us.

                Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us.

                Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; grant us peace.

                                                                      John 1:29, see also Luke 17:13





Admission to the Sacrament is by invitation of the Lord, presented through the Church to those who are baptized.


They may receive the Lord’s Body and Blood who are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, who commune in their home churches, and who believe that Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, is truly present in, with, and under the forms of bread and wine for the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.


The communicants will be invited forward one family unit at a time. Please do not come forward until the pastor directs you to come forward, do not approach all the way to the table until the pastor has retreated.


 When the pastor says ‘The body of Christ, given for you,’ eat the bread. When the pastor says, ‘The blood of Christ, shed for you,’ drink the wine.  Please take the plate and the glass(es) and place them on the table that is indicated.






Choir                                              ‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime

          Text/ Jean de Brebeuf; tr. Jesse Middleton;

                                                         Music/ French folk tune; arr. Robert Hobby


’Twas in the moon of wintertime when all the birds had fled

That God, the Lord of all the earth, sent angel choirs instead.

Before their light the stars grew dim,

and wond’ring hunters heard the hymn:

Jesus your king is born! Jesus is born! Glory be to God on high!”


The earliest moon of wintertime is not so round and fair

As was the ring of glory around the infant there.

And when the shepherds then drew near the angel voices rang out clear:

Jesus your king is born! Jesus is born! Glory be to God on high!”


O children of the forest free, the angels’ song is true.

The holy child of earth and heav’n is born today for you.

Come, kneel before the radiant boy,

who brings you beauty, peace, and joy.

Jesus your king is born! Jesus is born! Glory be to God on high!’

                                                                                Rob Dawe, Clarinet;

Mary Jane Snyder, Percussion


Of the Father’s Love Begotten                Green LBW 42

Stanzas 1 and 3; choir

Stanzas 2, 4 and 5; All

 1      Of the Father's love begotten

        ere the worlds began to be,

        he is Alpha and Omega,

        he the source, the ending he,

        of the things that are, that have been,

        and that future years shall see,

        evermore and evermore.


2      Oh, that birth forever blessed,

        when the virgin, full of grace,

        by the Holy Ghost conceiving,

        bore the Savior of our race,

        and the babe, the world's redeemer,

        first revealed his sacred face,

        evermore and evermore.


3      This is he whom seers in old time

        chanted of with one accord,

        whom the voices of the prophets

        promised in their faithful word;

        now he shines, the long-expected;

        let creation praise its Lord

        evermore and evermore.


4     Let the heights of heav'n adore him;

        angel hosts, his praises sing;

        pow'rs, dominions, bow before him

        and extol our God and King;

        let no tongue on earth be silent,

        ev'ry voice in concert ring

        evermore and evermore.


5      Christ, to thee, with God the Father,

        and, O Holy Ghost, to thee,

        hymn and chant and high thanksgiving

        and unwearied praises be:

        honor, glory, and dominion,

        and eternal victory

        evermore and evermore! Amen.


Text: Marcus Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, 348-413; tr. composite

When all have received, the congregation stands at the direction of the pastor.


The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen you and keep you in his grace.





God our Father,

you have made known to us again

the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

confirm our faith and fix our eyes on him

until the day dawns

and Christ the morning star rises in our hearts;

for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God: now and forever.



Silence for meditation.




May the Word who Mary brought to birth

carry you into new and abundant life.



May the Word who Joseph cradled in his arms

enfold you with love and strength.



May the Word who angels proclaimed in song

bring harmony to our world.



Almighty God, Father, X Son and Holy Spirit,

bless you now and forever.



CLOSING HYMN          Let Our Gladness Have No End                Green LBW 57

 1      Let our gladness have no end, Hallelujah!

        for to earth did Christ descend. Hallelujah!



        On this day God gave us

        Christ, his Son, to save us;

        Christ, his Son, to save us.


2      See the loveliest blooming rose, Hallelujah!

        from the branch of Jesse grows. Hallelujah!  Refrain


3      Into flesh is made the Word, Hallelujah!

        he, our refuge and our Lord. Hallelujah!  Refrain


Text: Bohemian carol, 15th cent.; tr. unknown


Go in peace. Serve the Lord.     

Thanks be to God!



From Sundays and Copyright 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #20540.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Common Worship: Times and Seasons, material from which is included in this

service, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England, 2006.




St Stephen Lutheran Church

55 Forsythe Road

Pittsburgh PA 15220

(412) 279-5868


Saturday Evening Worship – 6:30 pm

Sunday Morning Worship – 10:30 am

New Year’s Eve Worship – 6:30 pm