2021 Ecumenical Christmas Church Service from St Anne's Church Wellington

From Church Services, 7:06 am on 25 December 2021
Painting in St Mary's Cathedral

Photo: Flickr_Jim Forest

This ecumenical service brings together ministers and laypeople from Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, and Quaker denominations to celebrate Christmas. Music and words in English, te reo Māori, Niuean, Tongan and Fijian mark the cross-cultural nature of the event.

The participants are Rev. Cecilia Rooderkerk, Rev. Falkland Liuvaie, Minister Sue Brown, Joe Green, Rev. Kalo Kaisa, and Anne and Alistair Hall.

Music provided by New Zealand choirs ranges from familiar carols and hymns to those focusing on a summertime Christmas in Aotearoa.

(L-R) Rev Falkland Liuvaie, Rev Cecilia Rooderkerk, Alistair Hall, Anne Hall, Joe Green, Rev Kalo Kaisa, Minister Sue Brown

(L-R) Rev Falkland Liuvaie, Rev Cecilia Rooderkerk, Alistair Hall, Anne Hall, Joe Green, Rev Kalo Kaisa, Minister Sue Brown Photo: RNZ / Robyn Jaquiery


Kalo Kaisa

Welcome to this special service for Christmas 2021. An ecumenical celebration drawing together many Christian denominations, and conducted – as so much of this year has required – in a way which keeps everyone safe in this era of Covid-19.

Joe Green

We’re talking today from St Anne’s Catholic Church in Newtown, Wellington. However, in place of a single church choir, this service draws in music from RNZ’s library of local performances. We’ll hear many choirs performing both traditional favourites, and hymns reflecting Christmas in Aotearoa and the Pacific.

Sue Brown

On this Christmas Day, we’ll celebrate again what Christ’s coming means to the world. We join with all Christians throughout Aotearoa/New Zealand, across the Pacific, and round the globe who are united on this Holy Day.

No caption

Photo: Flickr / walwyn


O come, All Ye Faithful
sung by the choir of Wellington Cathedral of St Paul

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!

God of God, light of light,
lo, he abhors not the virgin’s womb;
Very God, begotten, not created;

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
sing, all ye citizens of heaven above:
“Glory to God, all glory in the highest!”

Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
born this happy morning,
Jesu, to thee be glory given.
Word of the father
now in flesh appearing;


Cecilia Rooderkerk

Tena tatou katoa, ko Hikurangi te maunga, ko Waiapu te awa, Ko Ngati Porou te iwi, ko Cecilia Rooderkerk e mihi atu kia koutou. Hi everyone. Hikurangi is my mountain. And from Hikurangi flows Waiapu the awa. And surrounded by that is my iwi Ngati Porou.

I am one of clergy working for Tikanga Maori of the Anglican church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, in Te Rohe Mihingare o Rimutaka ki Muritai (the Greater Hutt Valley).

Joe Green

I’m Joe Green, the Lay Pastoral Leader of the Parish Leadership Team in the Catholic Parish of Wellington South.

Sue Brown

I’m Sue Brown, Minister at Ngaio Union Church in Wellington, bringing together Methodist and Presbyterian communities.

Falkland Liuvaie

Fakaalofa lahi atu. Ko e heigoa haaku ko Falkland Liuvaie, ko e fekafekau he tau Niue mo e tau palagi he Ekalesia Ofaga ha Keriso, Kilbirnie Presbyterian Church i Tewhanganui-A-Tara.

I am Rev. Falkland Liuvaie. I am the minister for our Niue and English parish at Ofaga ha Keriso, Kilbirnie Presbyterian Church, Tewhanganui-A-Tara.

Kalo Kaisa

Malo e lelei. Ko hoku hingoa ko Faifekau Kalo Kaisa. ‘Oku ou fakakaungatamaki he siasi Hutt City Uniting Congregations ‘aia ko e siasi ‘oku fio ai ‘a e ngaahi matakali tautautefito ki he palangi, tonga mo e Ha’amoa. Pea ‘oku ‘I he malumalu ‘o e onga siasi Metotisi mo e Pelesipita.

I’m Rev Kalo Kaisa, at Hutt City Uniting Church, which comprises English, Tongan and Samoan-speaking congregations of the Methodist and Presbyterian denominations.

Anne and Alistair Hall

I’m Anne Hall... and I’m Alistair Hall... And we’re from the Palmerston North Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. Quakers.


Cecilia Rooderkerk

Russell Clark's reconstruction of Samuel Marsden's Christmas Day service at Hohi (Oihi) Bay in 1814.

Russell Clark's reconstruction of Samuel Marsden's Christmas Day service at Hohi (Oihi) Bay in 1814. Photo: Alexander Turnbull Library

Haere mai Imanuera;
ko koe te huarahi te pono me te ora;
ko koe te āka pono, te taro o te ora;
Haere mai e te Kaiwhakaora ora tonu
ki tōu ao e tāria nei mōu.
Kia whakakororiatia te Atua i runga rawa;
he maungarongo i runga i te whenua;
he Whakaaro pai ki nga tangata katoa.

Come, O come Emmanuel;
you are the way, the truth and the life;
you are the true vine and the bread of life.
Come living Saviour,
come to your world which waits for you.
Let there be glory to God in the highest;
peace on earth; and goodwill to all people.

We remember the taonga of the first sermon on the land of Aotearoa, proclaimed in the Bay of Islands on Christmas Day 1814.

In that first service, Rev. Samuel Marsden preached on these words from the Gospel:

“The angel said to the shepherds, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—

I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.’”


Adoration of the Kings (Damaskinos)

Photo: Wikimedia Commons


Hark! the herald angels sing
sung by Musica Sacra

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 th' angelic host proclaim,
"Christ is born in Bethlehem."
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new-born King!

Christ, by highest heaven adored:
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of the favoured one.
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see;
Hail, the incarnate Deity:
Pleased, as man, with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new-born King!

Hail! the heaven-born prince of peace!
Hail! the son 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 son of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new-born king!"


Alistair Hall

At this time, we remember the birth of Jesus Christ,
and his light which shines within us all.
Let us listen to those promptings of love and truth in our hearts,
and hold in the light those less fortunate than ourselves,
including not only the millions of refugees
and those in war-torn zones around the world,
but also those within our own community
for whom day-to-day life is a struggle.

In the way of Quakers, let us join together in a period of silence
to wait upon the word of God, that light within us…


Thank you, Friends.

Holy Trinity Cathedral

Holy Trinity Cathedral Photo: RNZ / Paul Bushnell


Falkland Liuvaie

A reading from the book of Isaiah.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shone.
You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For all the boots of the tramping warriors
and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
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 forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.


Sue Brown

And now a contemporary psalm – Nativity Prayer – by the New Zealand poet, psalmist, author, taonga, Joy Cowley.

Look now!

It is happening again!

Love like a high spring tide
is swelling to fullness and overflowing
the banks of our small concerns.

And here again is the star,
that white flame of truth
blazing the way for us
through a desert of tired words.

Once more comes the music,
angel song that lifts our hearts
and tunes our ears
to the harmony of the universe,
making us wonder how
we ever could have forgotten.

And now the magi within us
gathers up gifts of gold and myrrh,
while that other part of ourselves,
the impulsive, reckless shepherd,
runs helter skelter with arms outstretched
to embrace the wonder of it all.

We have no words
to contain our praise.

We ache with awe, we tremble with miracle,
as once again,
in the small stable of our lives,
Christ is born.

Choir of Meadowlands Fiji Methodist Church, Auckland

Choir of Meadowlands Fiji Methodist Church, Auckland Photo: RNZ / Paul Bushnell


Mai Peceliema / Away in a Manger
sung by the Choir from the Meadowlands Fiji Methodist Church in Auckland

Mai Peceliema
sa sucu e liu
Na Gone Turaga
ko ya ko Jisu
Na veikalokalo
sa cila ga mai
Ni davo ko Jisu,
na Gone lailai

Away in a manger,
no crib for a bed,
the little Lord Jesus
laid down his sweet head;
the stars in the heavens
looked down where he lay,
the little Lord Jesus
asleep on the hay.

Na veimanumanu
sa tagi tu ga.
ka sega ni rere
na gone koya
Jisu au loloma
kivei kemuni
Mai tiko kei au,
ni'u sa qai nomuni.

The cattle are lowing,
the baby awakes,
but little Lord Jesus,
no crying He makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus,
look down from the sky
and stay by my side
until morning is nigh

Ni toro mai Jisu,
me'u qai tiko dei;
mo ni volekati
au tiko e ke;
nanumi keimami
na gone lailai
na yalo i mami
me mami savai.

Be near me, Lord Jesus;
I ask thee to stay
close by me forever
and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children
in thy tender care,
and fit us for heaven,
to live with thee there.


Kalo Kaisa

A reading from Paul’s letter to Titus, first in Tongan, then in English.

Ko e folofola hono ua ‘oku lau atu ia mei he ‘ipiseli ‘a Paula kia Taitusi 2:11-14

He kuo fakaha mai ‘a e kelesi ‘a e ‘Otua, ‘a e kelesi ‘oku ‘omi fakamo’ui ki he kakai kotoa pe, ‘oku ne ngaohia kitautolu, ke tau fakafisi ki he faka’otuamate, mo e ngaahi holi fakaemamani; ka tau mo’ui angafakama’uma’u mo angatonu mo angafakalotu ‘I he maama ko eni: he’etau nofo’aki tali ki he ‘amanaki mohu monu’ia, ‘io ko e fakaha mai ‘o e langilangi’ia ‘o Sisu Kalaisi, ko e ‘Otua Lahi pea ko hotau Fakamo’ui. ‘A ia na’a ne foaki ia ‘e ia koe’uhi ko kitautolu mei he maumau lao kotoa: pea fakama’a ma’ana hano kakai tonu o’ona, ha kakai ‘oku mamahi’I ‘a e ngaahi ngaue lelei.

For the grace of God has appeared,
bringing salvation to all,
training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions,
and in the present age to live lives
that are self-controlled, upright, and godly,
while we wait for the blessed hope
and the manifestation of the glory
of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
He it is who gave himself for us
that he might redeem us from all iniquity
and purify for himself a people of his own
who are zealous for good deeds.

Bas-relief in Baltimore Cathedral showing nativity scene

Photo: Flickr / Lawrence Lew


O little town of Bethlehem
sung by Musica Sacra

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.

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.

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of his heaven.
No ear may hear his coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

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.

Emperor Augustus

Emperor Augustus Photo: Flickr / Bradley Weber


Joe Green

Today’s reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke tells the story of the birth of Jesus. I’m going to read it in segments, inviting the other speakers in today’s Christmas service to reflect on what it means.

In those days a decree went out from the 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.

Reflection by Sue Brown

Well, the writer of these words really wanted to make sure his listeners knew that Jesus had a good pedigree – a genealogy that linked him back to King David – a hugely important figure in the history of the Jewish people. ‘This will be an important man’ it’s as if Luke says – ‘sit up and pay attention. This baby matters!’

And for us today, in the year 2021, this baby still matters. I can’t help reflecting that Jesus was to be born into a time of huge social disruption. Disruption for ordinary people whose small lives were at the mercy of powerful rulers and world events – sound familiar? 

The census – in which ‘all the world was to be registered’ – was mandated by the Roman Emperor Augustus. And why? Well, it wasn’t done for the good of the peoples’ health! It was a money-making, military, venture. It raised tax dollars to rebuild the Roman empire and to impose Rome’s military might, after years of civil war and unrest.

So, these ordinary people – these colonised people, disrupted, dis empowered people, Joseph and Mary – had to leave their home and walk the 150kms (and just to put that in perspective, it’s like walking from Wellington to Palmerston North) over rugged terrain to pay their taxes to support the Empire. Later, as Matthew tells the story, they become refugees, as they escape from the terror created by King Herod who hunts them down.

And so our story begins – a story recorded more than 2000 years ago, but still as fresh and relevant today as it was then. A story in which God breaks through into the midst of everyday life. A God who knows what it is to be colonised, disrupted, dis-empowered, and a God who stands with us still today.

Nativity mosaic by Jacopo Torriti, c1295, Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

Nativity mosaic by Jacopo Torriti, c1295, Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome Photo: Flickr_edk7

Joe Green

Joseph 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 usual accommodation.

Reflection by Cecilia Roodekerk

Eight months ago my family were preparing for the birth of a new baby. As the time got closer, gifts of pre-loved and new baby things arrived – what excitement there was. The bassinet was ready (no straw-filled trough for this baby), the nursery was filled with light and freshness as well as a sense of peace.

In another time, another country, in the middle of winter and in a time when everyone is seeking accommodation, we hear of a very weary Joseph and a heavily pregnant Mary arriving in Bethlehem. It’s been a long walk from Nazareth, and there is no room to be had anywhere. ‘What now?’ might be Joseph’s thought!

A humble stable is made available where Mary gives birth and lays him in a straw-filled trough to sleep. Definitely a huge contrast to the birth of our baby! And yet while the event of the birth of Jesus appears to speak of humbleness, of struggle and of loneliness, it contrasts with how great the event really is. The Saviour is born and his birth is good news for all people.

Lives will be transformed by the forgiveness of sin. Outcasts are welcome. The hungry will be fed, poor are clothed and the homeless sheltered.

Thank you our loving Saviour for the joy of receiving a new baby into this new life that your birth promised. Amine.

The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds, Govert Flinck, 1639

The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds, Govert Flinck, 1639 Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Joe Green

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."

Reflection by Kalo Kaisa

The shepherds just did not believe whatever they were told by the angel. They could have thought the message was some fantasy that was too good to be true. Yet, they responded in these three actions: Let’s go, Let’s see and Let’s tell.

Let’s go – The shepherds responded in faith and action to an astounding revelation, and they did so with great haste.

Let’s see – The shepherds saw baby Jesus, the Word who had become flesh. The greatest miracle of all history.

Let’s tell – The shepherds did not keep it within, they share what they have experienced and bear witness to all.

The shepherds returned to the fields to watch their flocks. They returned to their ordinary everyday job, but their outlook on life had changed after their encounter with the Saviour. Life looked up from that moment onward – that is, in a spiritual sense – and they continually gave praise unto God and lived a life of worship.

The question I wish to ask: “How will we respond to this part of the story this very morning?” Hopefully, we will be as the shepherds and obey the tug of conviction on our hearts, get up and run to see the face of Saviour! Then be of good witness to what we have seen and heard. Perhaps this becomes our Christmas response today.

The Adoration of the Shepherds

The Adoration of the Shepherds Photo: Flickr / Lluís Ribes Mateu

Joe Green

So the shepherds went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Reflection by Anne Hall

The reading says “Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.”

I wonder what these ponderings were.

Was her precious little baby to be the hope for the world imagined by the prophets as expressed in the reading from Isaiah? Was the idea that her child could be the prophesied Saviour something to treasure, or something to fear? How would it affect his life? Or would she have been thinking more about the qualities that her child would bring into the world?

Did she hope that he would grow up and develop the qualities of being loving, compassionate and righteous? Did she have any idea of the impact Jesus’ life would have throughout the world?

Yes, he did grow up to be loving, caring and righteous, showing the way of love, peace and justice. From lowly beginnings, born in a stable he was able to change the world. By his life and example he showed that we can make choices in the way we live our lives that spring from using the light of Christ within ourselves as our guide.

Night sky showing star

Photo: Flickr / Preston Dyches


Indigo II (Light of lights beholden)
by Jenny McLeod, 
sung by the Festival Singers, Wellington

Light of lights beholden
we from days of olden
sang this song
for to understand
that peace upon this planet
was pledged to come.

Each to other, be a brother,
born for life and song,
look towards the light and carry on:
let the simple heart and hope among us
keep our family strong.

Night falling,
night falling,
falling, falling.

Darkness all around us,
light has always found us,
light will come
where the dark is deepest,
greater light will keep us
safe from harm.

Troubled times will always find
a voice of troubled doom,
look towards the light and carry on:
let the simple heart and hope among us
keep our family strong.

Let the simple heart and hope among us
Keep our family strong.

Newborn held in mother's hands

Photo: Flickr / John Finn


Kalo Kaisa

Through history, Jesus Christ has often been described as the Light Of The World. It’s the title of a famous painting from the nineteenth century. And it’s also the title of a poem by Meg Hartfield from Whanganui.


the light of the world
shining up through hay

reflected in the mother’s eyes
weary, wondering

in her peace after pain
tired mind
straining to understand –

the hands that formed worlds –
  petal-small, soft?

the heart that loved the world –
  tiny-beating, swaddled?

the Word made flesh –
  bud-mouth, seeking?

Holy mysteries.

She sleeps –
the quiet light shines
on a man, and ox, and donkey
and out – to light the world.

Ko Ihu Karaiti te maramatanga, te matapuna o te ora.

Christ is our light, the joy of our salvation.

St Anne's Catholic Church, Newtown, Wellington.

St Anne's Catholic Church, Newtown, Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Robyn Jaquiery


Silent Night (Po Marie)
sung by The Graduate Choir


Joe Green

Let us pray for a world infected with coronavirus:
that as we work to overcome the virus, we are patient with each other.

Almighty ever-living God / E te Atua kaha rawa, ora tonu,

Grant we pray courage to the fearful, strength to those separated by the virus, comfort to the sick and bereaved. My we reassure them by our words and actions.
Through Christ our Lord.


Let us pray for the poor, the hungry and the homeless:
Open our hearts in generosity to those in need.

Almighty ever-living God / E te Atua kaha rawa, ora tonu,

Grant we pray that the light of the Bethlehem stable enlivens us all.

Come to all the poor of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Come to all who are sleeping rough.
Come to the young who have lost their way,
come to the elders who have been forgotten.

May your love come to them in our giving.
Through Christ our Lord.


Let us pray for all who minister in the name of your son, Jesus:
that they do so joyfully and humbly, seeing him in each person they serve.

Almighty ever-living God / E te Atua kaha rawa, ora tonu,

Grant we pray patience and perseverance
to the many who offer their service to make Christmas just a little better for others.

What they do, they do for the least of our brothers and sisters.
Through Christ our Lord,


Let us pray for families everywhere at this Christmas time:

that they are understanding of the anxieties and pressures
that their members may be experiencing.

Almighty ever-living God / E te Atua kaha rawa, ora tonu,

Grant we pray that as families throughout Aotearoa New Zealand and the world celebrate Christmas, each in their own way and tradition,
they are patient and gentle with each other.
Through Christ our Lord,


St Anne's Catholic Church, Newtown, Wellington.

St Anne's Catholic Church, Newtown, Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Robyn Jaquiery


Falkland Liuvaie

Christian denominations often worship in different ways. But one of the sets of words common to us all is the Lord’s Prayer, which begins, Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name.

I will now speak it in Niuean.

Ha mautolu a Matua na e, ha hā he lagi
Kia tapu haau a higoa
Kia hoko mai haau a kautu
Kia eke haau a finagalo ke he lalolagi nai
Tuga ne eke ke he lagi.
Kia foaki mai e koe ke he aho nei
Ha mautolu a tau mena kai
Ke lata mo e aho taha
Kia fakamagalo mai e koe
Kia mautolu ha mautolu a tau hala
Ke tuga a mautolu ne fakamagalo atu
Kia lautolu ne eke fakakelea mai kia mautolu
Aua neke uta e koe a mautolu ke kamatamata
Ka e laveaki mai e koe a mautolu
Mai he tau mena kelea
Ha ko e mena ha hā ia koe e kautu mo e malolō
Katoa mo e fakahekeaga
Tukulagi – Amene.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil. Amen.


Joe Green

May the eagerness of the shepherds

Kalo Kaisa

the joy of the angels

Falkland Liuvaie

the perseverance of the wise men

Sue Brown

the willingness of Joseph and Mary

Cecilia Roodekerk

and the peace of the Christ-child
be yours this Christmas.


Dona Nobis Pacem
sung by Samantha Jeune

Dona nobis pacem
Give us peace

St Anne's Catholic Church, Newtown, Wellington.

St Anne's Catholic Church, Newtown, Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Robyn Jaquiery


Anne and Alistair Hall

Now a reflection based on a Creed by Barb Janes, Uniting Church of Canada

As we journey into this day …

We celebrate the promise of Christmas:
of God at the centre of Christmas,
   whose hope for the world was imagined by prophets;

of Mary, who sang of turning the world upside down
   and who allowed her life to be disrupted by God;

of Joseph, whose broken heart broke the rules
   to do the right thing;

of the smell of the stable –
   that there is no place that God will not go;

of the shepherds,
   those simple ones open to hear the angel’s song;

of the Magi, the ones outside the faith,
   outside the community, who searched out the Holy.


Joe Brown

A blessing for Aotearoa New Zealand

Falkland Liuvaie

And now, may the song of the tui bless you

Anne Hall

May the sound of children singing bless you

Cecilia Roodekerk

May the crimson pohutukawa bless you

Alistair Hall

May the sizzle and smoke of the barbecue bless you

Kalo Kaisa

May the laughter of family bless you

Sue Brown

And may the love of the God
of yesterday today and forever bless you
– and all the peoples and places of Aotearoa New Zealand –
as we live in hope and joy
because God is with us!

The pohutukawa tree (Metrosideros excelsa) with its crimson flower has become an established part of the New Zealand Christmas tradition.

The pohutukawa tree (Metrosideros excelsa) with its crimson flower has become an established part of the New Zealand Christmas tradition. Photo: Melanie Lovell-Smith, Te Ara


Carol our Christmas, an upside down Christmas
by Shirley Murray
sung by the Wellington Youth Choir

Carol our Christmas, an upside down Christmas:
snow is not falling and trees are not bare.
Carol the summer and welcome the Christ Child,
warm in our sunshine and sweetness of air.

Sing of the gold and the green and the sparkle,
water and river and lure of the beach.
Sing in the happiness of open spaces,
sing a nativity summer can reach!

Shepherds and musterers move over hillsides,
finding, not angels, but sheep to be shorn,
wise ones make journeys, whatever the season,
searching for signs of the truth to be born.

Right side up Christmas belongs to the universe,
made in the moment a woman gives birth:
hope is the Jesus gift, love is the offering,
everywhere, anywhere, here on the earth.

View of harbour with clouds and water reflections

Photo: Flickr / Xu Wang

This service could not have been made without the support of Reverend Tony Franklin-Ross, the Acting Director – Mission and Ecumenical – for the Methodist Church of New Zealand. RNZ is extremely grateful for his contribution, and the support of all those involved.

The recording for RNZ was engineered by Sam Smaill, and post-production in the studio was by Phil Benge.

The producers were Robyn Jaquiery and Paul Bushnell.


Artist: Choir of Wellington Cathedral
Song: O Come, All Ye Faithful
Composer: Trad.
Album: Herald HAVPCD 224

Artist: Musica Sacra
Song: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Composer: Mendelssohn
Album: Atoll CD 501

Artist: Choir from the Meadowlands Fiji Methodist Church in Auckland
Song: Mai Peceliema (Away in a Manger)
Composer: Trad.
Album: RNZ recording

Artist: Musica Sacra
Song: O Little Town of Bethlehem
Composer: Trad. Arr. Vaughan Williams
Album: Atoll CD 501

Artist: Festival Singers, Wellington
Song: Indigo II (Light of lights beholden)
Composer: Jenny McLeod
Album: Festivity Productions FPCD 2007

Artist: The Graduate Choir
Song: Silent Night (Po Marie)
Composer: Mohr, Gruber
Album: Atoll ACD 308

Artist: Samantha Jeune
Song: Dona nobis pacem
Composer: Anon.
Album: Private recording

Artist: Wellington Youth Choir
Song: Carol our Christmas
Composer: Shirley Murray
Album: NZ Hymnbook Trust 2002A