24 Dec 2023

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

From Music Alive, 8:00 pm on 24 December 2023
Wellington Cathedral of St Paul: A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

Wellington Cathedral of St Paul: A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols Photo: Wellington Cathedral of St Paul

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17 December 2023 at 7.30 pm

Wellington Cathedral of St Paul

Order of Service

The Very Reverend Katie Lawrence, Dean of Wellington Cathedral
The Venerable Don Rangi, Archdeacon, Te Upoko o Te Ika

Michael Stewart, music director
Tom Chatterton, Assistant Organist
The Choir and Choristers of Wellington Cathedral of St Paul
Ben Whitton and Naoto Segawa, Percussion

CAROL: Once in Royal David's City

Soloist: Alice Carter, Head Chorister

Wellington Cathedral of St Paul: A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

Wellington Cathedral of St Paul: A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols Photo: Wellington Cathedral of St Paul

1. 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.

5. And our eyes at last shall see him,
through his own redeeming  love,
for that child so dear and gentle
is our Lord in heaven above;
and he leads his children on
to the place where he is gone.

6. 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;
where like stars his children crowned
all in white shall wait around.

Words: Mrs C F Alexander  (1818–1895)
Tune: Irby, arr. Sir David Willcocks (1919-2015)



The Welcome and Bidding Prayer

The Very Reverend Katie Lawrence, Dean of the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul

The Very Reverend Katie Lawrence, Dean of the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul Photo: Wellington Cathedral of St Paul

The Venerable Don Rangi and the Very Reverend Katie Lawrence

E te whānau a te Karaiti, my brothers and sisters, in the name of God, who has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and made a place for us in the kingdom of his beloved Son, nau mai, haere mai; we welcome you to Wellington Cathedral of St Paul: grace to you and peace.

As we meet to celebrate anew the coming of God’s kingdom, we hear revealed the mystery of God’s loving purpose for us – how that when we were far off, he met us in his Son and brought us home; how he humbled himself to take our human nature, that we might share his divine glory.

Let us then so celebrate this coming with our carols and hymns of praise, that our lives may be charged with his life; that we may bear witness to his glory and so bring light to those who sit in darkness.

So first we pray for those among whom the Christ was born: the poor and helpless, the aged and young children; the cold, the hungry and the homeless; the victims of poverty, injustice and oppression, the sick and those who mourn, the lonely and the unloved; those in despair or in the shadow of death.

Then, as we hear again the message of peace on earth and goodwill among all his people, we pray for the leaders of the nations, that all may be inspired to work together for the establishment of justice, freedom and peace, across the Middle East and the world over.

And that we may bear true witness to this hope in a divided world, we pray for the peace and unity of Christ’s Body, the Church universal, that the whole earth may live to praise his name.

Finally, as we rejoice with the saints in heaven and on earth, we remember all who have gone before us with the sign of faith, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we offer up our prayers for the coming of his kingdom.

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,
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 Lord's Prayer/E to matou Matua i te rangi


First Lesson
Read by Peter Cullen
Democracy Project in Colleges and Retired Employment Lawyer

The disobedience of man and woman towards God.

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’  He said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’  He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’  The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.’  Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent tricked me, and I ate.’  The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.’ And to the man he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”        

Genesis 3:8–15, 17–19                                            


ORD: Adam Lay Ybounden

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 clerkes finden,
Written in their book.

Ne had the apple taken been
The apple taken been,
Ne had never our ladie,
Abeen heav'ne queen.

Blessed be the time
That apple taken was,
Therefore we moun singen.

Deo gracias!

Words: 15th Century 
Music: Boris Ord (1897–1961)


Second Lesson
Read by The Reverend Lance Lukin
Regional Director, The Oceania Mission to Seafarers

God promises to faithful Abraham that in his seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed.

The angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the Lord: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”

 Genesis 22:15–18


HYMN: Of the Father's love begotten                                             

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 the future years shall see,
evermore and evermore.

2. At his word they were created;
he commanded, it was done:
heav’n and earth and depth of ocean
in their threefold order one;
all that grows beneath the shining,
of the light of moon and sun,
evermore and evermore.

3. O that birth for ever blessèd,
when the Virgin, full of grace,
by the Holy Ghost conceiving,
bare the Saviour of our race;
and the babe, the world's Redeemer,
first revealed his sacred face,
evermore and evermore.

4. O ye 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,
every 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,honour, glory, and dominion,
and eternal victory,
evermore and evermore.

Words:  Prudentius (348-413), tr. John Mason Neale (1818-1866)
Tune: Divinum Mysterium, arr. Richard Lloyd (1933-2021)


Third Lesson
Read by Naomi Armstrong
Youth With a Mission, Discipleship Training School, Tauranga

The prophet foretells the coming of the Saviour.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined. For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Isaiah  9:2, 6–7


CHILCOTT: For Him all stars have shone

Wellington Cathedral of St Paul: A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

Wellington Cathedral of St Paul: A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols Photo: Wellington Cathedral of St Paul

Mischa Thomson, soloist

For Him all stars have shone
He is so small the stars bow down
The fierce winds ease their breath,
And careful shepherds look upon
The one unsullied birth.
They kneel and stare while time seems gone
And goodness rules the earth.

The blight on man is all undone,
And there will be no death,
For though this child will be nailed on a cross,
He’ll be so since he is the jewel of untold worth.

For him all stars have shone.

Words: Elizabeth Jennings (1926-2001)
Music: Bob Chilcott (b. 1955)


Fourth Lesson
Read by Allan Frost
Co-Chair for Wellington Samaritans

The prophecy of the Messiah’s kingdom of peace.

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.  He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.  The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.  The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,  and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.    

Isaiah 11:1–9



A tender shoot has started up from a root of grace,
as ancient seers imparted from Jesse's holy race:
It blooms without a blight, blooms in the cold mid-winter,
turning our darkness into light.

This shoot Isaiah taught us, from Jesse's root should spring;
The Virgin Mary brought us the branch of which we sing;
Our God of endless might gave her this child to save us,
Thus turning darkness into light.

Words: William Bartholomew (1793–1867)
Music: Otto Goldschmidt (1829–1907)


HYMN: Child of Christmas story

1. Child of Christmas story,
stable straw and star,
small and sweet and gentle,
tell us who you are.

2. Child whose baby finger
round our own is curled,
come to melt our hearts,
and come to change the world.

3. Child of Jew and gentile,
child of white and black,
teach us how to love you,
teach us what we lack.

4. Child of Mary's courage,
birthed in human pain,
tell us what your name is,
be our hope again.

Words: Shirley Murray (1931-2020)
Tune: Incarnation


Fifth Lesson
Read by Hera Clarke, Te Aupōuri, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou,
Commissary for Reconciliation and Restoration

The Angel Gabriel salutes the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In the sixth month the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.

And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.                                                              

Luke 1:26–38

GRUBER arr Maskill: Silent Night/Pō Marie

Pō marie, pō tapu
Marino ana, tiaho ana
Runga ia Meri me te Tama
Tama tapu i nga waenga
Moe i ai o rangi e
I te ao e

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Above Mary and her Son
Holy Boy in our midst
Sleeping as of heaven
in the world.

Words: Joseph Mohr (1792-1848) trans JF Young (1820-1885)
Trans into Te Reo Māori unattributed
Music: Franz Xavier Gruber (1787-1863) arr. Terence Maskell

Sixth Lesson

Read by The Reverend Murray Edridge
Wellington City Missioner

St Luke tells of the birth of Jesus.

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered.

Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

 Luke 2:1–7


GARDNER: Tomorrow shall be my dancing day

Tomorrow shall be my dancing day:
I would my true love did so chance
to see the legend of my play,
to call my true love to my dance:
Sing, O my love, O my love, my love, my love;
this have I done for my true love.

Then I was born of a virgin pure,
of her I took fleshly substance;
thus was I knit to man's nature,
to call my true love to my dance:

In a manger laid and wrapped I was,
so very poor this was my chance,
betwixt an ox and a silly poor ass,
to call my true love to my dance:=

Then afterwards baptized I was;
the Holy Ghost on me did glance,
my Father's voice heard from above,
to call my true love to my dance:

Words: Trad English
Music: John Gardner (1917-2011)
Percussionists: Naoto Segawa and Ben Whitton


Seventh Lesson
Read by Alice Carter
Head Chorister

The shepherds go to the manger.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.

Luke 2:8–16


HYMN: O little town of Bethlehem

1. 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.

2. O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King,
And peace to men on earth;
For Christ is born of Mary;
And gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.

3. 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.

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

Words: Bishop Phillips Brooks (1835–1893)
Tune: Forest Green, Arr. Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
Descant by Thomas Armstrong (1898-1994)


Eighth Lesson
Read by Darryl Stevens MNZM
Chief Executive, New Zealand Business & Parliament Trust

The wise men are led by the star to Jesus.

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.” ’

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’
When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary, his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Matthew 2:1–12


LEIGHTON: O leave your sheep

Soprano soloist, Asha Stewart

O leave your sheep,
Your lambs that follow after,
O leave the brook,
The pasture and the crook,
No longer weep,
Turn weeping into laughter,
O shepherds, seek your goal.
Your Lord, who cometh to console.

You’ll find him laid
within a simple stable,
A babe new born,
in poverty forlorn,
In love array’d,
A love so deep ‘tis able
To search the night for you,
‘Tis he! The Shepherd true.

O kings so great,
a light is streaming o’er you,
More radiant far
than diadem or star,
Forego your state,
A baby lies before you
Whose wonder shall be told:
Bring myrrh, bring frankincense and gold.

Words: French carol. English translation by Alice Raleigh
Music: Kenneth Leighton (1929–1988)


HYMN: O come, all ye faithful

1. 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!

2. 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…

3. 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…

4. Sing choirs of angels,
sing in exultation,
sing, all ye citizens of
heaven above;
glory to God
in the highest:
O come, let us adore him…

Words: Latin, 18th century, Trans. Frederick Oakeley (1802–1880) and others
Tune: Adeste Fideles, Arr. David Hill (b. 1957)


TAVENER: God is with us

Wellington Cathedral of St Paul: A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

Wellington Cathedral of St Paul: A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols Photo: Wellington Cathedral of St Paul

God is with us.

Hear ye people, even to the uttermost end of the earth.

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.
The people that dwell in the shadow of death, upon them the light has shined.
For unto us a child is born, for unto us a son is given,

God is with us,
And the government shall be upon his shoulder,
And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,

God is with us,
The mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
Hear ye people, even to the uttermost end of the earth:

God is with us, Christ is born.

Text: adapted from the Orthodox Great Compline for Christmas Eve
Music: Sir John Tavener (1944-2013)
Tenor soloist: Richard Taylor


Ninth Lesson

Read by The Very Reverend Katie Lawrence
Dean of Wellington Cathedral

St John unfolds the great mystery of the Incarnation.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And 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.

John 1:1–14


MENDELSSOHN: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

1. 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 the angelic host proclaim,
‘Christ is born in Bethlehem’.
Hark, the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King.

2. Christ, by highest heaven 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.

3. Hail, the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen 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)
Tune: Mendelssohn, arr. Sir David Willcocks (1919-2015)

The Blessing

May the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the perseverance of the wise men,the obedience of Joseph and Mary, and the peace of the Christ-child be yours this Christmas;
and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you now and forever.



Grand Chœur in D: Alla Händel, Op. 18, No. 1
Alexandre Guilmant (1837-1911)

Tom Chatterton (organ)


Recorded Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, 17 December, 2023

Producer, Engineer: David Houston

Assistant Engineer: Marc Chesterman