In the dark of this winter night, we proclaim the new light that has shone on the world: Jesus Christ is born! With the angels, we worship God who saves us — for through the life, death and resurrection of this child Jesus, salvation is ours.
Alternative Opening Prayer (from 1998 ICEL Missal)
Good and gracious God,
on this holy night you gave us your Son,
the Lord of the universe, wrapped in swaddling clothes,
the Saviour of all, lying in a manger.
On this holy night
draw us into the mystery of your love.
Join our voices with the heavenly host,
that we may sing your glory on high.
Give us a place among the shepherds,
that we may find the one for whom we have waited,
Jesus Christ, your Word made flesh,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
in the splendour of eternal light, God for ever and ever.
Introduction to the Scripture Readings
Isaiah 9:1-7 — The ancient promise of a light in darkness is fulfilled this Christmas night.
Titus 2:11-14 — As we wait in hope for the Lord’s coming in glory, we should live good and religious lives.
Luke 2:1-14 — Jesus is born in Bethlehem. The shepherds recognise him and angels echo their joy.
Introduction (by the Presider) Sisters and brothers, standing together in the brightness of this Christmas celebration, let us ask God to fill the whole world with light.
- For those who mark the birth of Christ all over the world this night, that the celebration may bring a new light to their lives (pause for silent prayer). Lord, hear us.
- For all whose lives are darkened by war and violence, that the peace and goodwill proclaimed by the angels may soon come (pause for silent prayer). Lord, hear us.
- For families and children who are homeless in Ireland, that the country may not forget their needs (pause for silent prayer). Lord, hear us.
- For the hungry people in our world, that they may have food and comfort (pause for silent prayer). Lord, hear us.
- For those in our parish who are sad, that the light of Christ may brighten their lives (pause for silent prayer). Lord, hear us.
- For our community and families, that Christ may find the same warm welcome among us as he received from Mary and Joseph and the shepherds that first Christmas night (pause for silent prayer). Lord, hear us.
The presider prays for the dead: for our friends who have fallen asleep in Christ (especially N and N), and for all our people who have died since last Christmas, whom we remember now: (pause for silent prayer) that the peace and joy of heaven may be theirs. Lord, hear us.
Conclusion (by the Presider) Maker of heaven and earth, your Son is born for us, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God: hear the prayers we make with confidence, through the same Christ, our Lord, Amen.
PREFACE FOR CHRISTMAS II (from 1998 ICEL Missal)
It is truly right and just,
our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In the great mystery of his birth,
the God we cannot see
has now appeared in human form.
The one begotten before all ages
begins to live in time.
He has come to raise the fallen world,
to make creation whole again,
and to lead humanity from exile
back to your heavenly kingdom.
And so, with all the angels and saints,
we sing the joyful hymn of your praise: HOLY, HOLY, HOLY
SOLEMN BLESSING for Christmas (from the 1998 ICEL Missal)
Presider: Bow your heads for God’s blessing.
Through the incarnation of his Son
God has scattered the darkness of the world,
and by Christ’s glorious birth,
which angels announced to the shepherds,
has brightened this most holy night.
May the God of infinite goodness banish the darkness
of sin from your hearts
and make them radiant with the light of goodness.
May God fill you with the joy of the shepherds
and make you heralds of the gospel.
May the God who joins heaven and earth
fill you with peace and goodwill
and unite you in fellowship with the Church in heaven.
May almighty God bless you,
the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit.