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“And he told them many things in parables…” — Matthew 13:3

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Epiphany Service of Lessons and Carols

An angel sculptureContinue seasonal celebrations into the new year with a special worship service on Epiphany, January 6, or the Sunday before January 6. The opening prayer and litany for Epiphany are taken from the Book of Common Worship (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993). Unless otherwise indicated, the suggested hymns may be found in the Presbyterian Hymnal (1990). If you choose to use the suggested prayers, litanies, and hymns, obtain copyright permission from the publishers noted at the end of this article.


Opening Sentences:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
Those who dwell in the land of deep darkness,
on them has the light shined.
We have beheld Christ’s glory,
glory as of the only Son of the Father.
For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given.
In him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

Opening Prayer:

Everlasting God,
the radiance of faithful souls,
who brought the nations to your light
and kings to the brightness of your rising:
Fill the world with your glory,
and show yourself to all the nations;
through him who is the true light
and the bright morning star,
Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.


Hymn 69 “O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright”

First Lesson:

Isaiah 60:1–6


Hymn 423 “Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun”

Second Lesson:

Ephesians 3:1–12


“When Heaven’s Bright With Mystery” (Voices United, 93)

Third Lesson:

Matthew 2:1–12


Hymn 66 “We Three Kings of Orient Are”

Fourth Lesson:

John 1:1–14


“In the Darkness Shines the Splendor” (Voices United, 92)

Fifth Lesson:

John 8:12


“The Lord Is My Light” (Taizé chant)

Sixth Lesson:

Matthew 5:14–16


Hymn 425 “Lord of Light, Your Name Outshining”

Litany for Epiphany

All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Alleluia!
Shout to the Lord, all the earth. Alleluia!

With joy let us pray to our Savior,
the Son of God who became one of us, saying:
The grace of God be with us all.

O Christ, let your gospel shine in every place where the Word of life is not yet received.
Draw the whole creation to yourself that your salvation may be known through all the earth.
The grace of God be with us all.

O Christ, Savior and Lord, extend your church to every place.
Make it a place of welcome for people of every race and tongue.
The grace of God be with us all.

O Christ, Ruler of rulers,
direct the work and thoughts of the leaders of nations that they may seek justice, and further peace and freedom for all.
The grace of God be with us all.

O Christ, Master of all,
support of the weak and comfort of the afflicted,
strengthen the tempted and raise the fallen.
Watch over the lonely and those in danger.
Give hope to the despairing and sustain the faith of the persecuted.
The grace of God be with us all.

O Christ, light made manifest as the true light of God, gladden our hearts on the joyful morning of your glory; call us by our name on the great Day of your coming; and give us grace to offer, with all the hosts of heaven, unending praise to God in whom all things find their ending, now and ever. Amen.

Charge and benediction

Hymn and Procession: “Siyahamba”

Book of Common Worship (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993), p. 192–193.

“When Heaven’s Bright with Mystery” and “In the Darkness Shines the Splendor” come from Voices United, hymnal of the United Church of Canada (Toronto: United Church Publishing House, 2000).

“The Lord Is My Light” is a Taizé chant. It can be found in Songs and Prayers from Taizé (Chicago: GIA Publications, 1991), #36.

A version of “Siyahamba” is available in Lift Up Your Hearts (Geneva Press, 1999), no. 56. Hope Publishing 1998, holds the copyright to the English words and music.