celtic preayers

Contemporary & Traditional Advent & Christmas Prayers

 

The joy of discovery
that moment
when hope and expectation
were gloriously met
by the illumination of one bright star.
We cannot imagine
what words were spoken by visitors
or if first impressions
left them somewhat confused.
Messiah, Saviour, a King
born in the barest of palaces.
Yet they saw and fell down
on their knees in adoration.
Lord, they saw you and knew
whom they had met.
As we meet around crib
candle or advent wreath
draw us into that stable
in our imagination.
In the quiet moments of prayer
this Christmas, that brief oasis
from the bustle of the world
bring alive to us
the smell of the hay
the sound of the animals
the cry of a baby.
Draw us close to our Saviour
Messiah and King as we bring
not Gold, Myrrh or Frankincense
but the gift of our lives
the only offering we can bring.


 

There were thousands of babies
born that day
all helpless
dependent
needful of love
warmth
and sustenance
some no doubt did not survive
to see another dawn
their tiny light extinguished
through lack of appropriate care
some would grow up to be kings
queens
leaders of men
others slaves
prostitutes
beggars
murderers and thieves
most however
would live ordinary lives
among ordinary people
and live and die
whilst the world scarce noticed
their existence
But not you
Who rose from the ordinary
to the extraordinary
from stable to cross
and beyond
whilst the world tried its best
to ignore you
and failed


 

Into the daily cycle of our lives
When all seems well
With us and with the world
When our yoke is easy
And the burden light
You break in
And scatter our complacency

Into the daily cycle of our lives
When we are comfortable
And at our ease
When the fire is lit
But eyes are closed
You break in
And challenge our dependency

You break into
Our daily prayers
Humble hearts
Lay souls bare
You break in
You break in

You break in
When defences are down
With an Angel's shout
Or the quietest sound
You break in
You break in

And we change
And all things change
When you break in


 

In the lonely places
The wilderness
Where we stand forlorn
Windswept and alone
Your voice calls out
Prepare a way for the Lord
In the dark places
The shadows
Where we hide our fears
Embrace our tears
Your voice calls out
Prepare a way for the Lord


 

For the desert places in which we walk
The streets we roam
The paths we cross
Guide our feet
Take us to places
Where you would go
Give us words that you would use
That in this Advent season
Of promise and preparation
We might point the way with John the Baptist
To the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!


 

Your prophets, called to make known your Word
Proclaiming justice, convicting sin
Displaying fruits of your love and grace
Comfort, comfort my people, says our God
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed

Your prophets, called to forth tell your Word
Unfolding a vision of your eternity
Making straight a highway to walk along
Comfort, comfort my people, says our God
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed


 

By the word of our Lord the heavens were made
By the spirit of our Lord was life begun
By the wisdom of our Lord his laws were laid
By the love of our Lord was born his Son
By the grace of our Lord mankind was saved
By the power of our Lord the victory was won


 

Creative God, breath of all life
Through whom all things
are created and sustained;
all sons and daughters
flocks and herds,
all birds of the air
and fish of the sea
You walked this earth
as child and Creator
You touched the soil
quenched your thirst
embraced this world
brought life and light
love and laughter
into dark and death-filled lives
Creative God, breath of all life
Through whom all things
are created and sustained
We bring to you our sacrifice
of a contrite and willing heart


 

May this eternal truth be always on our hearts
That the God who breathed this world into being
Placed stars into the heavens
And designed a butterfly's wing
Is the God who entrusted his life
to the care of ordinary people
became vulnerable that we might know
how strong is the power of Love
A mystery so deep it is impossible to grasp
A mystery so beautiful it is impossible to ignore


 

Circle us, Lord
Circle us with the light of your presence, bright within this dark word
Enable us to be overcomers of fear and temptation
Enable us to be victors over sin and despair
Enable us to become that which you would desire
(Silent prayer)
Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation
Circle us with the light of your presence

Circle us, Lord
Circle our family within the shelter of your outstretched arms
Protect them in each moment of their daily lives
Protect them in the decisions that they face
Protect their homes and relationships
(Silent prayer)
Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation
Circle our families with the light of your presence

Circle us, Lord
Circle this nation with Advent love and hope
Create a desire to listen to the Advent message
Create a willingness to understand and respond
Create a need to reach out to the Christ Child
(Silent prayer)
Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation
Circle our nation with the light of your presence

Circle us, Lord
Circle this world with the joy of your Salvation
Where there is sickness and disease bring healing
Where there is hunger and despair bring hope
Where there is torture and oppression bring release
(Silent prayer)
Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation
Circle this world with the light of your presence

 


Saving God, who walked this earth
in Eden and by Galilee,
we praise you for your everlasting love,
enduring patience,
and for the greatest gift of all,
the possibility of Salvation
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



From the very beginning was
Your Word
Which spoke this world into being
Your Word
Which thunders from the skies
Your Word
Which flows like mountain streams
Your Word
Which whispers in morning breeze
Your Word
Revealed through kings and prophets
Your Word
Revealed through Angels' praise
Your Word
Revealed in humble service
Your Word
Revealed through a tiny child
Your Word
Alive from the beginning of all things
And to eternity.



You gave your all to the world
in the bleakness of that stable.
Love was born that day
Pure love
Undiluted
Poured out for all
who call on Your name
Such Grace
Undeserved
deserves a response
in the life that we lead.
Forgive our ingratitude
for all you have done,
draw us to your Word,
give us a new song to sing,
that will resonate throughout this world.
And begin with us today. Amen



Shout for joy
the whole earth,
and everything within.
Rejoice!
For Light has come into the world

The mountains sing,
the seas resound
to the praise of your name.
Salvation
once promised is here on earth

The angels' song
rings in the air,
a child has been born.
Hallelujah!
The Saviour of the world is here



We worship the birth of a baby,
and in doing so acknowledge
God reaching down to touch the earth
and bless it once again;
to walk within the garden
as once he did in Eden.
We worship the birth of a Saviour,
an infant in whose fragility
lay all the signs of sacrifice;
born in humility,
growing into his kingdom
as Scripture's Promised One.
We worship Jesus, Saviour and King.


Prayers from Other Sources

 

The feast day of your birth resembles You, Lord
Because it brings joy to all humanity.
Old people and infants alike enjoy your day.
Your day is celebrated
from generation to generation.
Kings and emperors may pass away,
And the festivals to commemorate them soon lapse.
But your festival
will be remembered until the end of time.
Your day is a means and a pledge of peace.
At Your birth heaven and earth were reconciled,
Since you came from heaven to earth on that day
You forgave our sins and wiped away our guilt.
You gave us so many gifts on the day of your birth:
A treasure chest of spiritual medicines for the sick;
Spiritual light for the blind;
The cup of salvation for the thirsty;
The bread of life for the hungry.
In the winter when trees are bare,
You give us the most succulent spiritual fruit.
In the frost when the earth is barren,
You bring new hope to our souls.
In December when seeds are hidden in the soil,
The staff of life springs forth from the virgin womb


St. Ephraim the Syrian (AD 306-373)

 


 

O sweet Child of Bethlehem,
grant that we may share with all our hearts
in this profound mystery of Christmas.
Put into the hearts of men and women this peace
for which they sometimes seek so desperately
and which you alone can give to them.
Help them to know one another better,
and to live as brothers and sisters,
children of the same Father.
Reveal to them also your beauty, holiness and purity.
Awaken in their hearts
love and gratitude for your infinite goodness.
Join them all together in your love.
And give us your heavenly peace. Amen.


Pope John XXIII

 


 

Jesu, the Father's only Son,
whose death for all redemption won,
before the worlds, of God most high,
begotten all ineffably.

The Father's Light and Splendor Thou
their endless Hope to Thee that bow:
accept the prayers and praise today
that through the world Thy servants pay.

Salvation's author, call to mind
how, taking the form of humankind,
born of a Virgin undefiled,
Thou in man's flesh becamest a Child.

Thus testifies the present day
Through every year in long array,
that Thou, salvation's source alone
proceedest from the Father's Throne.

Whence sky, and stars, and sea's abyss,
and earth, and all that therein is,
shall still, with laud and carol meet,
the Author of thine Advent greet.

And we who, by Thy precious Blood
from sin redeemed, are marked for God,
on this, the day that saw Thy Birth,
sing the new song of ransomed earth.

All honor, laud, and glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born, to Thee;
whom with the Father we adore,
and Holy Ghost forevermore. Amen.


6th Century Hymn; tr: John Mason Neale

 


 

 

Let Your goodness Lord appear to us, that we
made in your image, conform ourselves to it.
In our own strength
we cannot imitate Your majesty, power, and wonder
nor is it fitting for us to try.
But Your mercy reaches from the heavens
through the clouds to the earth below.
You have come to us as a small child,
but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts,
the gift of eternal love
Caress us with Your tiny hands,
embrace us with Your tiny arms
and pierce our hearts with Your soft, sweet cries.


St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

 


 

 

 

 

 

Loving Father, Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake. Amen.

(A Christmas Prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson)

 


 

Give us, O God, the vision which can see Your love in the world in spite of human failure.
Give us the faith to trust Your goodness in spite of our ignorance and weakness.
Give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray with understanding hearts.
And show us what each one of us can do to set forward the coming of the day of universal peace.

(Frank Borman, Apollo 8 space mission, 1968)

 


 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was filled with sorrow at the tragic death of his wife in a fire in 1861. The Civil War broke out the same year, and it seemed this was an additional punishment. Two years later, Longfellow was again saddened to learn that his own son had been seriously wounded in the Army of the Potomac.

Sitting down to his desk, one Christmas Day, he heard the church bells ringing. It was in this setting that Longfellow wrote these lines:

 

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep.
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!
The wrong shall fail,
The right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men!"

-- Pulpit Helps, 12-92, p. 23

 


 

Loving mother of the Redeemer,
gate of heaven, star of the sea,
assist your people who have fallen
yet strive to rise again.
To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator,
Yet remained a virgin after as before.
You who received Gabriel's joyful greeting,
have pity on us poor sinners.


- Marian Antiphon Traditionally Said from Advent to Candlemas

 

 


 

Let the just rejoice,
for their justifier is born.
Let the sick and infirm rejoice,
For their saviour is born.
Let the captives rejoice,
For their Redeemer is born.
Let slaves rejoice,
for their Master is born.
Let free men rejoice,
For their Liberator is born.
Let All Christians rejoice,
For Jesus Christ is born.


St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-440)

 


 

Father
You make this holy night radiant
with the splendor of Jesus Christ our light
We welcome Him as Lord, true light of the world.
Bring us to eternal joy in the kingdom of heaven
where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
one God, for ever and ever.


International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL)

 


 

God of love, Father of all,
the darkness that covered the earth
has given way to the bright dawn of your Word made flesh.
Make us a people of this light.
Make us faithful to your Word
that we may bring your life to the waiting world.
Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.


International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL)

 


 

O God, who hast caused this holy night to shine
with the illumination of the true Light:
Grant us, we beseech thee,
that as we have known the mystery of that Light upon earth,
so may we also perfectly enjoy him in heaven;
where with thee and the Holy Spirit
he liveth and reigneth, one God,
in glory everlasting. Amen


1979 Book of Common Prayer

 


 

Almighty God and Father of light,
a child is born to us an a Son is given to us.
Your eternal Word leaped down from heaven
in the silent watches of the night,
and now your Church is filled with wonder
at the nearness of her God.
Open our hearts to receive His life
and increase our vision with the rising of dawn,
that our lives may be filled with His glory and His peace,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever.


International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL)

 


 

Your nativity, O Christ our God,
has shed the light of knowledge upon the world.
Through it,
those who had been star-worshipers
learned through a star to worship you,
O Sun of Justice,
and to recognize in you the one who rises
and who comes from on high.
O Lord, glory to you!


Feast of the Nativity Liturgy

 


 

Lord God
we praise you for creating man,
and still more for restoring him in Christ.
Your Son shared our weakness:
may we share his glory,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God
for ever and ever. Amen.


Liturgy of the Hours, Fridays in Advent

 


 

The Great "O" Antiphons - seven brief prayers that are traditionally chanted or sung on successive evenings starting on December 17. The precise origin of these texts is unknown. However, by the 8th and 9th centuries, the church in Rome and monastic communities throughout western Europe were using them at evening worship services during the season of Advent.

December 17:

O Wisdom,
O Holy Word of God,
You govern all creation with your strong, yet tender care.
Come, and show your people the way to salvation.

December 18:

O Sacred Lord of ancient Israel,
who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush,
who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain:
Come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free

December 19:

O Flower of Jesse's stem,
You have been raised up as a sign for all peoples;
Kings stand silent in your presence;
the nations bow down in worship before you.
Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid

December 20:

O Key of David,
O Royal Power of Israel
Controlling at your will the gate of heaven:
Come, break down the prison walls of death
for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death;
and lead your captive people into freedom

December 21:

O Radiant Dawn,
Splendor of eternal light,
Sun of justice:
Come, shine on those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death

December 22:

O King of all the nations,
the only joy of every human heart;
O Keystone of the mighty arch of man,
Come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust

December 23:

O Emmanuel,
King and Lawgiver
Desire of the nations,
Savior of all people,
Come and set us free, Lord, our God!
Catholic Prayer For Christ's Triple Coming

 


 

Lamb of God,
You once came to rid the world of sin;
cleanse me now from every stain of sin.
Lord, you came to save what was lost;
come once again with Your salvific power
so that those You redeemed will not be punished.
I have come to know You in faith;
may I have unending joy
when You come again in glory.
New Saint Joseph People's Prayer Book

 


 

Come, Sun and Savior, to embrace Our gloomy world,
its weary race,
As groom to bride, as bride to groom:
The wedding chamber, Mary's womb.
At your great Name, O Jesus, now
All knees must bend, all hearts must bow;
All things on earth with one accord,
Like those in heaven, shall call you Lord.
Come in your holy might, we pray,
Redeem us for eternal day;
Defend us while we dwell below,
From all assaults of our dread foe.


Advent Evening Hymn (8th Century)

 


 

Father, in the wilderness of the Jordan
you sent a messenger to prepare people's hearts
for the coming of your Son.
Help me to hear his words and repent of my sins,
so that I may clearly see the way to walk,
the truth to speak, and the life to live for Him,
our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen


Advent Prayer to be Freed from Sin and Death

 


 

God our Father,
you loved the world so much
you gave your only Son to free us
from the ancient power of sin and death.
Help us who wait for his coming
and lead us to true liberty.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen
Liturgy of the Hours, Fridays in Advent


Advent Prayer for Hope in Christ's Coming

 


 

All-powerful God,
help us to look forward in hope
to the coming of our Savior.
May we live as he taught,
ready to welcome him with burning love and faith.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen


Liturgy of the Hours, Fridays in Advent

 



Catholic Collect for the 1st Sunday in Advent

Stir up thy power, O Lord, and come,
that by thy protection we may be rescued
from the dangers that beset us through our sins;
and be a Redeemer to deliver us;
Who livest and reignest with God the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
ever one God, world without end.


May be said while lighting the first Advent Candle

 


 


Catholic Collect for the 2nd Sunday of Advent

Stir up our hearts, O Lord,
to prepare the paths of thine Only-begotten Son:
that we may worthily serve thee
with hearts purified by His coming:
Who livest and reignest with God the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
ever one God, world without end. Amen.


Often said while lighting the second Advent Candle

 



Catholic Collect for the 3rd Sunday in Advent

We beseech thee to listen to our prayers, O Lord,
and by the grace of thy coming enlighten our darkened minds:
Thou who livest and reignest with God the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.


May be said while lighting the third advent candle

 


 


Catholic Collect for the 4th Sunday in Advent

Pour forth thy power, O Lord, and come:
Assist us by that mighty power,
so that by thy grace and merciful kindness
we may swiftly receive the salvation that our sins impede:
Who livest and reignest with thee
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
ever one God, world without end. Amen.


May be said while lighting the fourth Advent Candle

 



Advent Prayer for Forgiveness and Mercy

Father,
We contemplate the birth of your Son.
He was born of the Virgin Mary
and came to live among us.
May we receive forgiveness and mercy
Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Liturgy of the Hours, Dec. 23rd
Advent Prayer to Follow God's Will

God of love and mercy,
help us to follow the example of Mary,
always ready to do your will.
At the message of an angel
she welcomed your eternal Son
and, filled with the light of your Spirit,
she became the temple of your Word,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


Liturgy of the Hours, Dec. 20th

 



Opening Catholic Mass Prayer: Advent One

Father in heaven,
our hearts desire the warmth of your love
and our minds are searching for the light of your Word.
Increase our longing for Christ our Savior
and give us the strength to grow in love,
that the dawn of his coming
may find us rejoicing in his presence
and welcoming the light of his truth.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.


International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL)

 


Advent Prayer to Jesus

You are our eternal salvation,
The unfailing light of the world.
Light everlasting,
You are truly our redemption.
Grieving that the human race was perishing
through the tempter's power,
without leaving the heights
You came to the depths in your loving kindness.
Readily taking our humanity by Your gracious will,
You saved all earthly creatures, long since lost,
Restoring joy to the world.
Redeem our souls and bodies, O Christ,
and so possess us as Your shining dwellings.
By Your first coming, make us righteous;
At your second coming, set us free:
So that, when the world is filled with light
and you judge all things,
We may be clad in spotless robes
and follow in Your steps, O King,
Into the heavenly hall.


Unknown Author, 10th century

 



Alma Redemptoris Mater (Loving Mother of the Redeemer)

Loving mother of the Redeemer,
gate of heaven, star of the sea,
assist your people who have fallen
yet strive to rise again.
To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator,
Yet remained a virgin after as before.
You who received Gabriel's joyful greeting,
have pity on us poor sinners.


Marian Antiphon Traditionally Said from Advent to Candlemas

 



Anglican Collect for First Sunday of Advent

Almighty God,
give us grace that we may cast away
the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light,
now in the time of this mortal life
in which thy Son Jesus Christ came
to visit us in great humility;
that in the last day, when he shall come again
in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost,
one God, now and for ever.


1979 Book of Common Prayer

 



Anglican Collect for The Second Sunday of Advent

Merciful God,
who sent thy messengers the prophets to
preach repentance
and prepare the way for our salvation:
Give us grace to heed their warnings
and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy
the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer;
who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


1979 Book of Common Prayer

 



Anglican Collect for the Third Sunday in Advent

Stir up thy power, O Lord,
and with great might come among us;
and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let thy bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost,
be honor and glory, world without end.


1979 Book of Common Prayer

 



Anglican Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Purify our conscience, Almighty God,
by your daily visitation, that Thy Son Jesus Christ,
at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself;
who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


1979 Book of Common Prayer