A Service of Lessons and Carols for Epiphany
Sunday, January 14, 2018 at 5:00 p.m.
This candlelit service of readings and music celebrates the feast and the continuing season of Epiphany: the coming of Christ, the visit of the Magi, and the presentation in the Temple.
Epiphany celebrates the appearance of God’s glory in the world through the birth of Jesus, our Emmanuel (“God with us”), and the revelation of the incarnation to the Gentiles, and the whole world. It has been marked since the 3rd century with a Feast Day on the 6th of January and celebrated in both East and West in a rich variety of ways. In the Western Church, the emphasis has been on the nativity itself and the acknowledgment of Christ’s sovereignty over all through the visit of the Magi bringing their gifts of frankincense, gold, and myrrh. The revelation of his true nature is echoed by the words of the prophet Simeon, the Nunc Dimittis, at the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (observed with a Feast Day in the Episcopal Church on February 2).
The Greek word epiphany means literally “sudden appearance” and refers above all to the manifestation of God. This is the moment we see that Jesus is so much more than a good human being, a wise teacher, and a moral example. In fact he is the Word become flesh. It is in this sense that Simeon declares him to be “salvation” and “a light to lighten the Gentiles.” Later Jesus calls himself “the light of the World.” Thus the symbolism of light pervades both this season and this Service of Lessons and Carols for Epiphany.
Christ calls us out of darkness and into light, so that we may recognize his effect on all creation. In this service, we pray that our eyes may be opened to see his glory; for all are made in the image and likeness of God.
This service includes music by Buxtehude, Sowerby, Walton, Philip Stopford, and a remarkable piece for soprano saxophone and choir by David Nield.
This service and this description are adapted from an order of service held at St. John’s College, Cambridge, England.