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The Opening

The Psalms

The Lessons

The Commemoration

The Creed

The Prayers

The Ending

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Wednesday, December 26
Morning Prayer
St. Stephen the Deacon

The Opening

Opening Sentence

Their sound has gone out into all lands, and their message to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:4

Hymn: Saint Stephen was a holy man

Saint Stephen was a holy man
Endued with heavenly might,
And many wonders he did work
All in the people's sight;
And by the holy Spirit of God,
Which did his heart inflame,
He sparéd not, in every place,
To preach God's holy name.

O man, do never faint nor fear,
When God the truth shall try;
But mark how Stephen, for Christ's sake,
Was a-willing for to die.

Before the elders he was brought,
His answers for to make,
But they could not the spirit withstand
Whereby this man did speak.
While this was told, the multitude
Beholding him aright,
His comely face began to shine
Most like an angel bright.

O man, do never faint nor fear,
When God the truth shall try;
But mark how Stephen, for Christ's sake,
Was a-willing for to die.

Then Stephen did put forth his voice,
And he did first unfold
The wond'rous works which God had wrought
Even for their fathers old;
That they thereby might plainly know
Christ Jesus should here be
That from the burden of the law
Should quit us frank and free.

O man, do never faint nor fear,
When God the truth shall try;
But mark how Stephen, for Christ's sake,
Was a-willing for to die.

But, oh! quoth he, you wicked men,
Which of your fathers all
Did not the prophets persecute,
And keep in woeful thrall?
But when they heard him so to say,
Upon him they all ran,
And there without the city gates
They stoned this holy man.

O man, do never faint nor fear,
When God the truth shall try;
But mark how Stephen, for Christ's sake,
Was a-willing for to die.

There he most meekly on his knees
To God did pray at large
Desiring that He should not lay
This sin unto their charge;
Then yielding up his soul to God,
Who had it dearly bought,
He lost his life, and his body then
To the grave was seemly brought.

O man, do never faint nor fear,
When God the truth shall try;
But mark how Stephen, for Christ's sake,
Was a-willing for to die.

Singers and musicians: Magpie Lane

Confession

Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us all our sins
through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen us in all
goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep us in
eternal life. Amen.

Versicle and Response

Lord, open our lips.
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Alleluia. To us a child is born:
Come let us adore him. Alleluia.

Jubilate

Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands;
serve the Lord with gladness
and come before his presence with a song.
Know this: The Lord himself is God;
he himself has made us, and we are his;
we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and call upon his Name.
For the Lord is good;
his mercy is everlasting;
and his faithfulness endures from age to age.

Antiphon

Alleluia. To us a child is born:
Come let us adore him. Alleluia.

The Psalms

Psalm 28 or
Coverdale
Ad te, Domine

1O LORD, I call to you;
my Rock, do not be deaf to my cry; *
lest, if you do not hear me,
I become like those who go down to the Pit.

2Hear the voice of my prayer when I cry out to you, *
when I lift up my hands to your holy of holies.

3Do not snatch me away with the wicked or with the
evildoers, *
who speak peaceably with their neighbors,
while strife is in their hearts.

4Repay them according to their deeds, *
and according to the wickedness of their actions.

5According to the work of their hands repay them, *
and give them their just deserts.

6They have no understanding of the LORD'S doings,
nor of the works of his hands; *
therefore he will break them down and not
build them up.

7Blessed is the LORD! *
for he has heard the voice of my prayer.

8The LORD is my strength and my shield; *
my heart trusts in him, and I have been helped;

9Therefore my heart dances for joy, *
and in my song will I praise him.

10The LORD is the strength of his people, *
a safe refuge for his anointed.

11Save your people and bless your inheritance; *
shepherd them and carry them for ever.

Psalm 30
or Coverdale

1 I will exalt you, O LORD,

because you have lifted me up *

and have not let my enemies triumph over me.

2 O LORD my God, I cried out to you, *

and you restored me to health.

3 You brought me up, O LORD, from the dead; *

you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.

4 Sing to the LORD, you servants of his; *

give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.

5 For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye, *

his favor for a lifetime.

6 Weeping may spend the night, *

but joy comes in the morning.

7 While I felt secure, I said,

"I shall never be disturbed. *

You, LORD, with your favor, made me as strong as the mountains."

8 Then you hid your face, *

and I was filled with fear.

9 I cried to you, O LORD; *

I pleaded with the Lord, saying,

10 "What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit? *

will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?

11 Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me; *

O LORD, be my helper."

12 You have turned my wailing into dancing; *

you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy.

13 Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing; *

O LORD my God, I will give you thanks for ever.

Gloria Patri

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen. Amen.

The Lessons

The Old Testament Reading

2 Chronicles 24:17-22

17Now after the death of Jehoiada the officials of Judah came and did obeisance to the king; then the king listened to them. 18They abandoned the house of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and served the sacred poles and the idols. And wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this guilt of theirs. 19Yet he sent prophets among them to bring them back to the Lord; they testified against them, but they would not listen.

20Then the spirit of God took possession of Zechariah son of the priest Jehoiada; he stood above the people and said to them, ‘Thus says God: Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has also forsaken you.’ 21But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him to death in the court of the house of the Lord. 22King Joash did not remember the kindness that Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, had shown him, but killed his son. As he was dying, he said, ‘May the Lord see and avenge!'

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Canticle 11 The Third Song of Isaiah
Isaiah 60:1-3, 11a, 14c, 18-19 Surge, illuminare

Arise, shine, for your light has come, *
and the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you.

For behold, darkness covers the land; *
deep gloom enshrouds the peoples.

But over you the Lord will rise, *
and his glory will appear upon you.

Nations will stream to your light, *
and kings to the brightness of your dawning.

Your gates will always be open; *
by day or night they will never be shut.

They will call you, The City of the Lord, *
The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

Violence will no more be heard in your land, *
ruin or destruction within your borders.

You will call your walls, Salvation, *
and all your portals, Praise.

The sun will no more be your light by day; *
by night you will not need the brightness of the moon.

The Lord will be your everlasting light, *
and your God will be your glory.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

The New Testament Reading

Acts 6:1-7

1Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. 2And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait at tables. 3Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, 4while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.’ 5What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

7The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Canticle 16 The Song of Zechariah
Luke 1:68-79 Benedictus Dominus Deus

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;*
he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior,*
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old,
that he would save us from our enemies,*
from the hands of all who hate us.
he promised to show mercy to our fathers*
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham,*
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship him without fear,*
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,*
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
To give his people knowledge of salvation*
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God*
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,*
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

The Commemoration

All that we know about Stephen the Protomartyr (that is, the first martyr of the Christian Church) is found in chapters 6 and 7 of the Book of Acts.

The early Christian congregations, like the Jewish synagogues, had a program of assistance for needy widows, and some of the Greek-speaking Jews in the Jerusalem congregation complained that their widows were being neglected. The apostles replied: "We cannot both preach and administer financial matters. Choose seven men from among yourselves, respected, Spirit-filled, and of sound judgement, and let them be in charge of the accounts, and we will devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word." The people accordingly chose seven men, including Stephen, and the apostles laid their hands on them. They are traditionally considered to be the first deacons, although the Scriptures do not use the word to describe them. (The Scriptures do refer to officials called deacons in the local congregations, without being very specific about their duties; and a century or more later, we find the organized charities of each local congregation in the hands of its deacons.)

Stephen was an eloquent and fiery speaker, and a provocative one. (Some readers have speculated that some of his fellow Christians wanted to put him in charge of alms in the hope that he would administer more and talk less.) His blunt declarations that the Temple service was no longer the means by which penitent sinners should seek reconciliation with God enraged the Temple leaders, who caused him to be stoned to death. As he died, he said, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." One of those who saw the stoning and approved of it was Saul (or Paul) of Tarsus, who took an active part in the general persecution of Christians that followed the death of Stephen, but who was later led to become a Christian himself.

We remember Stephen on December 26, the day after Christmas. Hence the song

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen,

describes an action of the king on the day after Christmas Day. The tune used with this song is older than the words and was previously used with a hymn often sung on the feasts of Stephen and other martyrs. It begins:

Christian friends, your voices raise.
Wake the day with gladness.
God himself to joy and praise
turns our human sadness:
Joy that martyrs won their crown,
opened heaven's bright portal,
when they laid the mortal down

essay written by James Kiefer

The Creed

The Apostle's Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

The Prayers

The Lord's Prayer

or traditional

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.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever. Amen.

Suffrages

Show us your mercy, O Lord;

And grant us your salvation.

Clothe your ministers with righteousness;

Let your people sing with joy.

Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;

For only in you can we live in safety.

Lord, keep this nation under your care;

And guide us in the way of justice and truth.

Let your way be known upon earth;

Your saving health among all nations.

Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;

Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.

Create in us clean hearts, O God;

And sustain us with your Holy Spirit.

Collect of the Day: St. Stephen the Deacon

We give you thanks, O Lord of glory, for the example of the first martyr Stephen, who looked up to heaven and prayed for his persecutors to your Son Jesus Christ, who stands at your right hand: where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

For Mission

O God and Father of all, whom the whole heavens adore: Let the whole earth also worship you, all nations obey you, all tongues confess and bless you, and men and women everywhere love you and serve you in peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

World Cycle of Prayer

We pray for the people of Sweden.

Ecumenical Cycle of Prayer

We pray for our sisters and brothers members of the Eternal Sacred Order of Cherubim and Seraphim.

A Collect for Peace

Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Hymn: To my humble supplication

To my humble supplication
Lord, give ear and acceptation
Save thy servant, that hath none
Help nor hope but Thee alone. Amen.

Prayers and Intercessions

Let us pray now for our own needs and those of others.

Birthdays
Anniversaries
For Recovery from Sickness
For Travelers
For a Person in Trouble or Bereavement
For Those to be Baptized
For the Departed
Full list of prayers

For our Country

Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech you that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of your favor and glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion us into one united people. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in your Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may show forth your praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in you to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the President of the
United States
and all in Civil Authority

O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to your merciful care, that, being guided by your Providence, we may dwell secure in your peace. Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of this State (or, Commonwealth), and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do your will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in your fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

Hymn: Jesus our brother

Jesus our brother kind and good
Was humbly born in a stable of wood
And the friendly beasts around him stood
Jesus our brother kind and good
"I" said the donkey all shaggy and brown
I carried his mother up hill and down
I carried her safely to Bethlehem town
"I" said the donkey all shaggy and brown
And "I" said the cow all white and red
I gave him my manger for a bed
I gave him my hay to pillow his head
"I" said the cow all white and red
"I" said the sheep with curly horn
I have him my wool for his blanket warm
He wore my coat on that Christmas morn
"I" said the sheep with curly horn
"I" said the dove from the rafters high
Cooed him to sleep that he should not cry
We cooed him to sleep my babes and I
"I" said the dove from the rafters high
And "I" said the camel yellow and black
Over the desert upon my back
I brought him a gift in the wise men's pack
"I" said the camel yellow and black
Thus every beast by some good spell
In the stable dark was proud to tell
Of the gift he gave Emmanuel
The gift that he gave Emmanuel

Singers: The Punters
Translated by Robert Davis
Music: Traditional, French

A Prayer of Self-Dedication

Almighty and eternal God,
so draw our hearts to you,
so guide our minds,
so fill our imaginations,
so control our wills,
that we may be wholly yours,
utterly dedicated unto you;
and then use us, we pray you, as you will,
and always to your glory and the welfare of your people;
through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

The General Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

A Prayer of St. Chrysostom

Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication to you; and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen.

The Ending

Benediction

Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Romans 15:13

Hymn: God Be With You

God be with you till we meet again;
By his counsels guide, uphold you;
With his sheep securely fold you.
God be with you till we meet again.
Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus' feet,
Till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

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