An Alternative Carol Service

The Order of Service for a Carol Service that we had last week; this is what I wrote in the pew sheet: “I’ve been asked what ‘An Alternative Carol Service’ is. It is a traditional Carol Service in terms of its format (bidding prayer, readings and carols) but using one of the alternative themes and patterns of readings suggested in Common Worship – ‘Good News for the Poor’. The carols have been chosen to fit that theme, many of them simply alternative words to familiar tunes. The aim is to bring out an element of the Christmas story that I believe is often missed: ‘the meaning of the manger’. For those who want the more customary ‘Nine Lessons’ style Carol Service, Peldon’s service is at 6pm tonight (18th), and East Mersea has a traditional candle-lit service at 6.30 on Christmas Eve. There is also the Friends traditional Carol concert on Tuesday evening and our own two Carol services on Christmas Eve, as well as a wholly traditional Midnight Mass. Given the scale of the provision here and across the benefice as a whole I felt that there was room to explore something just a little different. There will be mulled wine and mince pies available after the service and I do hope people will come and join us for what I am sure will be an enjoyable and meaningful service.”

The service provoked some very strong reactions, both positive and negative, which I’m still digesting, and I suspect we won’t do it in the same way next year. I wasn’t going to post it, but reading Giles Fraser I thought that people might find it of some interest. (By the way, I think this research is relevant!!)


Carol: It came upon the midnight clear (323)

Bidding Prayer and Lord’s Prayer (trad)

Reading: Micah 5.2-5a

Carol: When God Almighty came to earth (sheet)

Reading: Isaiah 35

Carol: The aye carol (sheet)

Reading: Jeremiah 22.13-17; 23.5,6

Carol: Inspired by Love and Anger (317)

Reading: Isaiah 11.1-9

Carol: Join the song of praise and protest (363)

Reading: Isaiah 40.1-10

Carol: God bless us and disturb us (sheet)

Reading: Philippians 2.5-11

Carol: Once in Judah’s least known city (sheet)

Reading: Luke 2.1-20

Carol: When our God came to earth (729)

Solemn Blessing