A Bidding Prayer for Christmas Eve: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD
Many of us are familiar with the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols, either in our own churches or in hearing the broadcast from King’s College, Cambridge, UK, on Christmas Eve. The Service was first drawn up by Edward Benson when Bishop of Truro for use in that cathedral, and was later simplified and adapted for use in the Chapel of King’s College in 1918 by the then Dean, Eric Milner-White. What is often forgotten, is that the first time this service took place it was only six weeks after the end of the First World War, a war in which the UK had lost over 700,000 men and women who had been killed. Almost every home and family in the nation had experienced the loss of a father, son, daughter, brother, sister or friend.
It was in this context of national grief and loss that Milner-White wrote the Bidding prayer which follows and used it to open the service. I use it in my home, with family and friends, every Christmas Eve. Despite the original circumstances surrounding the writing of the prayer, it is truly timeless.
Beloved in Christ, in this Christmastide, let it be 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 the manger.
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; and let us make this place glad with our carols of praise.
But first, let us pray for the needs of his whole world; for peace and goodwill over all the earth; for the mission and unity of the Church for which he died, and especially in this country and within this city.
And because this of all things would rejoice his heart, let us at this time remember in his name the poor and the helpless; the hungry and the oppressed; the sick and those who mourn; the lonely and the unloved; the aged and the little children; and 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 his pure and lowly Mother, and all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore and in a greater light, that multitude which no one can number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom, in this Lord Jesus, we for evermore are one.
These prayers and praises let us humbly offer up to the throne of heaven, in the words which Christ himself hath taught us:
which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that 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. Amen.
The Almighty God bless us with his grace; Christ give us the joys of everlasting life, and unto the fellowship of the citizens above may the King of Angels bring us all. Amen.
A Happy and Blessed Feast of the Nativity to you all…