ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who of thy great mercy didst save Noah and his family in the ark from perishing by water; and also didst safely lead the children of Israel thy people through the Red Sea, figuring thereby thy holy Baptism, and by the Baptism of thy well beloved Son Jesus Christ in the river Jordan, didst sanctify Water to the mystical washing away of sin; We beseech thee, for thine infinite mercies, that thou wilt mercifully look upon this Child; wash him and sanctify him with the Holy Ghost; that he, being delivered from thy wrath, may be received into the ark of Christ’s Church; and being steadfast in faith, joyful through hope, and rooted in charity, may so pass the waves of this troublesome world, that finally he may come to the land of everlasting life, there to reign with thee, world without end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
–1789 Book of Common Prayer (Baptism Prayer)
“We adore you, Christ, Son of the living God. In triumph you rose from the grave and bore in your hands the keys of death and hell: we rejoice in your almighty power and glory. Raise us up with you above all earthly desires. Inspire us with thoughts of joy, hope and love. Enter within our hearts and say, ‘Peace be with you.’ Give us grace to see you with the eyes of understanding so that we may know you walking by our side on our earthly pilgrimage. Come to us and dwell within us; stay with us and make yourself known to us in the scriptures and in the breaking of bread. Teach us, as we sail our boat through the darkness of life, to see you standing on the everlasting shore of peace and let us come to you across the waters.”
–from Downside Abbey Prayerbook, by David Foster (2001).
Loving God, Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.
May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
— Robert Louis Stevenson
Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.
My heart for very joy doth leap,
My lips no more can silence keep,
I too must sing, with joyful tongue,
That sweetest ancient song,
Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given
While angels sing with pious mirth.
A glad new year to all the earth!
Lord, our God and Father give to many to all, and to us as well, that we may celebrate Christmas like this: that in complete thankfulness, utter humpty, and then complete joy and confidence we may come to the one whom you have sent and in whom you yourself have come to us. Clean out the many things in us that, now that the hour has come, have become impossible for us, can no longer belong to us, may, must, and will fall away form us, by virtue of your beloved Son, our Lord and Savior, entering into our midst and creating order. Have mercy also on all those who either do not yet or do not fully know you and your kingdom, who perhaps once knew everything and have either forgotten, misunderstood, or even denied it! ….. We thank you that we are permitted to know that we do not pray and will never pray to you in vain. We thank you that you have let your light rise, that it shines in the darkness, and that the darkness will not overcome it. We thank you that you are God, and that we may be your people. Amen.
O Mercy Divine,
How couldst Thou incline,
My God, to become such an infant as mine?
What a wonder of grace,
The Ancient of Days
Is found in the likeness of Adam’s frail race!
He comes from on high,
Who fashion’d the sky,
And meekly vouchsafes in a manger to lie.
Our God, ever blest,
With oxen doth rest,
Is nursed by His creature, and hangs at the breast.
So heavenly mild
His innocence smiled,
No wonder the mother should worship the Child.
The angels she knew
Had worshipp’d Him too,
And still they confess adoration His due.
On Jesus’s face
With eager amaze,
And pleasures ecstatic, the cherubim gaze.
Their newly born King
Transported they sing,
And heaven and earth with the triumph doth ring.
The shepherds behold
Him promised of old
By angels attended, by prophets foretold.
The wise men adore,
And bring Him their store,
The rich are permitted to follow the poor.
To the inn they repair,
To see the young Heir;
The inn is a palace, for Jesus is there.
Who now would be great,
And not rather wait
On Jesus, their Lord, in His humble estate?
Like Him would I be,
My Master I see
In a stable; a stable shall satisfy me.
With Him I reside;
The manger shall hide
Mine honour, the manger shall bury my pride.
And here will I lie,
Till raised up on high,
With Him on the cross, I recover the sky.
–Charles Wesley (Hymns for the Nativity of Our Lord, 1745)