29 December 2016


A hymn text for carolling and to be sung during the Twelve Days of Christmas and at New Year's. This text is most usually sung to the English tune "FOREST GREEN" as arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams in The English Hymnal and The Hymnal 1940.  

Some parishes sing my hymn text to George Frederick Handel's tune CHRISTMAS (No. 577 in The Hymnal 1940) by doubling the fourth and eighth line in each stanza.


Now light your lamps, ye Christians wise
and gather 'neath Christ's Star.
The Light of lights, the Prince of Peace
has come here from afar.
No warrior he, the Word made flesh,
the servant of us all,
the Child whose breathing brings us peace,
whose heartbeat saves us all.

God's mother's face reveals his light

as moon shines by the sun,
And Joseph's eyes filled full with joy
gleam bright with God's own Son.
O Christ our God, true face of God
now cradled in their arms,
O please accept what gifts we bring:
our hearts, our minds, our love.

Child Jesus, hear our fervent prayer

for peace to reign on earth,
for great and small, for rich and poor,
for each to know their worth.
Though fallen be the human race
and sin and hate abound
give peace to all for in each face
thy image still is found.

O sing, you blessed company

of faithful people, Sing !
for God the Child whose very light
demands the darkness flee.
O Trinity of endless light,
with love our praise we bring
where Wisdom found a cave for house
to bring forth earth's true king.

Copyright © 2007 Vincent Uher
Suggested tunes: Forest Green, Winchester Old (see below)
vincentuher3 at gmail dot com

Click on the hymn image above 
for a larger version for viewing and printing

Uher Hymn: FLIGHT INTO EGYPT (Lonely Travellers from the Stable)


Poem: Flight Into Egypt

Lonely travellers from the stable
Out beneath the hard blue sky
Journeying, wandering, hoping, praying
For the safety of their child
While our mother Rachel's weeping
Fills the streets of Bethlehem.
Kyrie eleison. 

Warned by angels, moved to save him
Who was born our kind to save,
Joseph leads his holy family
Far from Herod and harm's way.
Mary shielding and consoling
Jesus Christ the Son of God.
Kyrie eleison. 

Fleeing from the land of promise
They in Egypt find a home
Strange the workings of God's mercy --
House of bondage now God's throne.
But for sons who all were murdered
Sorrow breaks the House of Bread.
Kyrie eleison. 

True the tale of flight and exile.
Out of Egypt comes God's Son.
Angels tell of Herod's dying.
All is ended, all begun.
Jesus will grow up in Nazareth
And the world will all be stunned.
Kyrie eleison. 

Words: Copyright © 1997 by Vincent Wm Uher III

"Lonely Travellers from the Stable" is a hymn of mine (Vincent Uher) especially appropriate for use after Christmas Day and upon the Feast of the Holy Family.  

The hymn is also printed in some places as "The Flight into Egypt Hymn" or "Christmastide Kyrie".  This was originally a poem of mine simply titled "Flight into Egypt".  My preference is to use either the first line of my hymn ("Lonely Travellers from the Stable") or the explanatory title "The Flight into Egypt Hymn".

Click on the music above for larger size to print or view
Permission granted for one time use by church, school, or choir.

New Zealand: Carol our Christmas


Carol our Christmas
A Carol from New Zealand

Australian: The Silver Stars are in the Sky


The Silver Stars are in the Sky
Australian Christmas Carols
Yvonne Kenny, Soprano
Adelaide Symphony Orchestra

Gloria in excelsis Deo!

28 December 2016



Bright torches in the darkest night,
The saints of God as lights yet shine.
Lord, let our witness rise with theirs,
And through their prayers give grace divine.

A dimly burning wick were we,
But now our faith fills with thy fire
For thou art all consuming love —
Thy perfect will our heart's desire.

Unite thy saints through every age
And cleansed from sin lift us above,
O Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
One God in glory, one in love. Amen.

Copyright © 2006 by Vincent Uher
This may be sung to the tune Winchester New

The hymn above I wrote originally for the Feast of Stephen the Martyr, but it is useful for all saints' and martyrs' holy days including the Feast of the Holy Innocents.

I wrote the text with the tune 'WINCHESTER NEW' in mind ... using such a familiar tune makes it easy to introduce a newer hymn text to a congregation.  

Composer Noel Jones has written a magnificent new tune for my hymn text entitled 'TYBURN' which I commend to all.  It is an excellent tune which can be seen below or downloaded from the following LINK.

Click on music above for a larger printable image.

27 December 2016

Christmastide: A Litany of the Incarnation

Offices of the Gospel: Monday at the Sixth Hour

HOLY art thou, O God; holy, Creator : Father most holy:
Have mercy upon us.

Holy art thou, O God; holy, most mighty; holy Incarnate:
Have mercy upon us.

Holy art thou, O God; holy, immortal; holy, Lifegiver:
Have mercy upon us.

Glory be to God on high;
And in earth peace, goodwill towards men.

By the archangel's salutation,
Grant us thy peace.

By Mary's glad obedience,
Grant us thy peace.

By the endless joy of Christmas,

Grant us thy peace.

By the love of Mary Mother,
Grant us thy peace.

By thy lowly birth and lodging,
Grant us thy peace.

By thy cradle in a manger,
Grant us thy peace.

By the song of herald angels,
Grant us thy peace.

By the homage of poor shepherds,
Grant us thy peace.

By the offering of princes,
Grant us thy peace.

By thy holy name of Jesus,
Grant us thy peace.

Glory be to God on high:
And in earth peace, goodwill towards men.

WE thy children do beseech thee to hear us, O Lord God, and to grant
That the glad light of the Incarnation may shine throughout the world;
Son of Man, we beseech thee to hear us.

That the Gospel of thy love may win the faith and homage of all hearts;
Son of Man, we beseech thee to hear us.

That all estates of men may know and find their unity at Bethlehem;
Son of man, we beseech thee to hear us.

That the questionings of all minds and the wants of all souls at Bethlehem may find their peace:
Son of Man, we beseech thee to hear us.

That thy birth as Man may hallow the whole life of man:
Son of Man, we beseech thee to hear us.

That we may ever wear in honour the robe of flesh which thou hast worn:
Son of Man, we beseech thee to hear us.

That thou for whom an inn could find no room may not again be crowded from our lives:
Son of Man, we beseech thee to hear us.

That thou for whom a stable-place sufficed wilt not disdain to dwell within our hearts:
Son of Man, we beseech thee to hear us.

Glory be to God on high:
And in earth peace, goodwill towards men.

THEREFORE with angels and archangels, with patriarchs and prophets, with Mary and Joseph, with wise men and shepherds, with all men and all creatures, let us bless the Lord;
Hosannah in the highest.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the governments shall be upon his shoulder;
Hosannah in the highest.

And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace;
Hosannah in the highest.

For in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;
Hosannah in the highest.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us;
Hosannah in the highest.

And we have seen his glory, glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth;
Hosannah in the highest.

GOD the Father, maker of men; God the Son, born among men; God the Holy Ghost, sanctifying men, bless, preserve, and keep us, evermore and evermore. Amen.

Cambridge Offices and Orisons
E. Milner-White, B.T.D. Smith

26 December 2016

Ancient Prayers of Peace


O CHRIST, the Word of the Most High Father, Who wast made Flesh to dwell among us, enter into our hearts, that all we who have been redeemed by the mystery of Thine Incarnation, may remain united in the fellowship of perpetual peace.  (Mozarabic Catholic)

LORD God Almighty, Christ the King of glory, Who art our true Peace, and Love eternal ; enlighten our souls with the brightness of Thy peace, and purify our consciences with the sweetness of Thy love, that we may with peaceful hearts wait for the Author of peace, and in the adversities of this world may ever have Thee for our Guardian and Protector ; and so being fenced about by Thy care, may heartily give ourselves to the love of Thy peace.  
(Mozarabic Catholic)

O GOD, Who art Peace everlasting, Whose chosen reward is the gift of peace, and Who hast taught us that the peace-makers are Thy children, pour Thy sweet peace into our souls, that everything discordant may utterly vanish, and all that makes for peace be sweet to us for ever.   (Mozarabic Catholic)

from Ancient Collects
William Bright

O GOD, Who art the unsearchable abyss of peace, the ineffable sea of love, the fountain of blessings, and the bestower of affection, Who sendest peace to those that receive it; open to us this day the sea of Thy love, and water us with the plenteous streams from the riches of Thy grace. Make us children of quietness, and heirs of peace. Enkindle in us the fire of Thy love; sow in us Thy fear; strengthen our weakness by Thy power; bind us closely to Thee and to each other in one firm and indissoluble bond of unity; for the sake of Jesus Christ.  (Syrian Clementine Liturgy)

By Thy Star Guide Us, O Jesus


JESUS, our Master, 
meet us while we walk in the way 
and long to reach the heavenly country;
so that, following your light
we may keep the way of righteousness, 
and never wander away 
into the darkness of this world's night,
while you, who are the Way, the Truth, and the Life
are shining within us;
for your own name's sake. Amen.


ETERNAL LIGHT, shine into our hearts.
Eternal Goodness, deliver us from evil.
Eternal Power, be our support.
Eternal Wisdom, scatter the darkness of our ignorance.
Eternal Pity, have mercy upon us.
That with all our heart and mind and soul and strength
we may seek Thy face
and be brought by Thine infinite mercy to Thy holy presence;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O GOD, the Enlightener of all nations,
grant Thy people to enjoy perpetual peace;
and pour into our hearts that radiant Light 
which Thou didst shed into the minds of the Wise Men;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, 
Who hast made known the Incarnation of Thy Word
by the testimony of a glorious Star, 
which when the wise men beheld,
they adored Thy Majesty with gifts;
grant that the Star of Thy righteousness may alway appear in our hearts,
and our treasure consist in giving thanks to Thee;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Stephenmas: "Good King Wenceslas"


Good King Wenceslas
The Choir of Westminster Abbey

Saint Stephen the Martyr, pray for us.

25 December 2016

Nativity Blessings to All


God send you the happiest and merriest of Twelve Days of Christmas!

May we rejoice in the Nativity of the Son of God.  

And may all Heaven's Joy be yours in the recollection of the birth of God the Word mad flesh, born of the pure and Blessed Virgin Mary, born to be guarded and loved by His earthly father Joseph of the House of David.

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.

An Irvingite Act of Angelical Praise

from the (Irvingite) Catholic Apostolic Church (U.K.)

A Blest First Day of Christmas to One and All!

O God, who makest us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of thy only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that as we joyfully receive him for our Redeemer, so we may with sure confidence behold him when he shall come to be our Judge; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

Uher Hymn: O LIVING LORD (for Advent, Christmastide)


O Living Lord,
In thine own Mother thou didst rule and reign.
Nine months her womb all heaven did contain.
Thou heaven’s Lord, within her flesh sustained —
Her blood, thy grain.

Come down from heav’n,
O Bread of Angels by her milk once fed,
For thee we hunger, Thou our Living Bread.
Thy precious Blood to sinners, pray, extend,
O Life without end.

Light of the world,
Star of the morning, Sun of righteousness,
From thy pure Chalice we taste holiness.
By thine own flesh our souls and bodies bless,
Divine Presence.

O Mary’s Son,
Blest be thy Father, Maker of all things.
“Blest be thy Spirit,” all creation sings.
Blest our redemption! Let all bells now ring
For Christ the King.


Copyright © 2006 by Vincent Uher
This may be sung to the tune Ora Labora

"Heart of the Holy Child" (English Catholic Hymn Book)


             HEART of the Holy Child
             Hide me in thee,
             Purest and undefiled
             Purify me.
             Joy of my earthly life,
             Far from sin and passions rife,
             Troubling this world of strife,
             Keep me with thee.

             Sweet Child of Bethlehem,
             Open thine Heart,
             Lessons from Nazareth
             Deign to impart;
             Mary and Joseph dear
             Let us be to Jesus near,
             With you we shall not fear
             From him to part.

Author unknown
from The English Catholic Hymn Book
The S. Matthew Edition, No. 977

A Dorset Christmas Carol

“Awake and join the cheerful choir”

Please click (or perhaps double-click) on the image above to see it enlarged.


23 December 2016

King's College: The Sans Day Carol


The Sans Day Carol 
arranged by John Rutter

The Choir of King's College, 2011


Anglican Patrimony: "Thou Babe Most Dear"


Christmas Communion

Thou Babe most dear,
Thou Babe divine,
Beneath these veils of Bread and Wine
I know Thee here.

Behold, I come
To worship Thee,
To take Thee in this Mystery
To have Thee home !

Thou, very God,
For love of me
From Bethlehem to Calvary
Love's paths hast trod.

Thou, very Man,
In humbleness
Didst learn obedience through distress –
And that I can.

Lord JESU Christ,
As Thou to me,
So would I humbly come to Thee
In Eucharist.

Father Andrew, S.D.C

Gloria in excelsis Deo


The Crown of the Year: Weekly Paragraphs for the Holy Sacrament
by Austin Farrer

"Our journey sets out from God in our creation, and returns to God at the final judgement. As the bird rises from the earth to fly, and must some time return to the earth from which it rose; so God sends us forth to fly, and we must fall back into the hands of God at last. But God does not wait for the failure of our power and the expiry of our days to drop us back into his lap. He goes himself to meet us and everywhere confronts us. Where is the countenance which we must finally look in the eyes, and not be able to turn away our head?
[That countenance] smiles up at Mary from the cradle, it calls Peter from the nets, it looks on him with grief when he has denied his Master. Our judge meets us at every step of our way, with forgivenness on his lips and succour in his hands. He offers us these things while there is yet time. Every day opportunity shortens, our scope for learning our Redeemer's love is narrowed by twenty-four hours, and we come nearer to the end of our journey, when we shall fall into the hands of the living God, and touch the heart of the devouring fire."
Austin Farrer

The Crown of the Year: Weekly Paragraphs for the Holy Sacrament
by Austin Farrer

"ADVENT brings Christmas, judgement runs out into mercy. For the God who saves us and the God who judges us is one God. We are not, even, condemned by his severity and redeemed by his compassion; what judges us is what redeems us, the love of God. What is it that will break our hearts on judgement day? Is it not the vision, suddenly unrolled, of how he has loved the friends we have neglected, of how he has loved us, and we have not loved him in return ; how, when we came (as now) before his altar, he gave us himself, and we gave him half-penitences, or resolutions too weak to commit our wills? But while love thus judges us by being what it is, the same love redeems us by effecting what it does. Love shares flesh and blood with us in this present world, that the eyes which look us through at last may find in us a better substance than our vanity."
Austin Farrer

The Crown of the Year: Weekly Paragraphs for the Holy Sacrament
by Austin Farrer

"JESUS gave his body and blood to his disciples in bread and wine. Amazed at such a token, and little understanding what they did, Peter, John, and the rest reached out their hands and took their master and their God. Whatever else they knew or did not know, they knew they were committed to him, body and soul; they were consenting that he should die for them, and that they, somehow, should live it out. The cock had not crowed twice that night before Peter thrice denied, but still he knew he was committed to Christ, for Christ had given him his body and his blood. Christ's body and blood lived in him, and Christ forgave him; there was no breaking of the sacramental tie. We are not worthy of Christ, but we are bound to Christ. With all the sincerity of our minds let us renew the bond, and pray to live for him who has died for us."
Austin Farrer

The Crown of the Year: Weekly Paragraphs for the Holy Sacrament
by Austin Farrer

"ADVENT is a coming, not our coming to God, but his to us. We cannot come to God, he is beyond our reach; but he can come to us, for we are not beneath his mercy. Even in another life, as St John sees it in his vision, we do not rise to God, but he descends to us, and dwells humanly among human creatures, in the glorious man, Jesus Christ. And that will be his last coming; so we shall be his people, and he everlastingly our God, our God-with-us, our Emmanuel. He will so come, but he is come already, he comes always: in our fellow Christian (even in a child, says Christ), in his word, invisibly in our souls, more visibly in this Sacrament. Opening ourselves to him, we call him in: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; O come, Emmanuel."
Austin Farrer

The Crown of the Year: Weekly Paragraphs for the Holy Sacrament
by Austin Farrer

"WHEN Mary laid Jesus Christ upon her knees, when she searched him with her eyes, when she fed him at the breast, she did not study to love him because she ought, she loved him because he was dear: he was her Son. His conception had been supernatural, perplexing, affrighting; it had called for faith in the incomprehensible, and obedience beyond the limit of human power. His nativity was human and sweet, and the love with which she embraced it was a natural growth, inseparable from the thing she loved. She was blessed above all creatures, because she loved her Maker inevitably and by simple nature; even though it needed the sword-wounds of the Passion to teach her fully that it was her Maker whom she loved. The Son of Mary is the Son of all human kind, that we may be ledup with Mary to a love beyond kind, a selfless love for the supreme Goodness, when we too shall have climbed the ladder of the Cross."

Austin Farrer

HRH Prince Charles condemns "evil persecution"





  From an old Anglican Children's Prayer Book


send Thy Spirit into men's hearts 
that they may hate war 
and love peace.
Teach the children of every land 
that it is better to love one another 
than to fight,
so that war may cease
and Thy Kingdom of love and brotherhood
may be set up through all the world,
for the sake of JESUS CHRIST, 
Our Lord. 

What is a Compassionate Heart? - St. Isaac the Syrian


Via the Reverend Canon A.M. Allchin of + Memory Eternal +

Saint Isaac the Syrian writes:

    An elder was once asked 'What is a compassionate heart?'

    He replied, 'It is a heart on fire for the whole of creation, for humanity, for the birds, for the animals, for demons and for all that exists.

    'At the recollection and at the sight of them such a person's eyes overflow with tears owing to the vehemence of the compassion which grips his heart; as a result of his deep mercy, his heart shrinks and cannot bear to hear or look on any injury or the slightest suffering of anything in creation.

    'This is why he constantly offers up prayer full of tears, even for the irrational animals and for the enemies of truth, even for those who harm him, so that they may be protected and find mercy. He even prays for the reptiles as a result of the great compassion which is poured out without measure - after the likeness of God - in his heart. '

The heart of compassion: 
daily readings with St Isaac of Syria 
(London 1989), p9. 

Final Advent Thoughts from a Sermon by John Keble


Sermon XXVII:  The Advent Collects IV.


by John Keble

(From four sermons on the collects summing up catechizing 
after the 2nd lesson at the Evening Service.)

found in
Sermons for the Christian Year:  Advent to Christmas Eve

S. MATT. viii. 25.
“His disciples came unto Him, and awoke Him,
saying, Lord, save us we perish.” 

IN the three first Advent collects we look on distinctly to the Day of Judgement, the final Coming of our Lord, and we beseech Him to prepare us for it.  In the collect for the first Sunday, we ask Him in general that we may be ready; the works of darkness cast away, and the armour of light put on.  In the second collect, we beseech God to bless us in our use of Holy Scripture, as one of the chief helps which He has given to bring us to heaven.  In the third, we speak to Him of the holy ministry, the succession of Bishops and priests in His Church, and pray that it may prosper in the work whereunto He ordained it, i.e. the conversion of men’s hearts, that we may he found “an acceptable people at His second Coming to judge the world.” All these petitions you see refer expressly to that second Coming.  But this which is appointed for the fourth and last week in Advent takes rather a different tone.

It speaks, not so much of a future deliverance which the faithful hope for at the end of the world, but of relief wanted immediately, from urgent, overwhelming distress.  “O Lord, raise up, we pray Thee, Thy power and come among us, and with great might succour us.” As if the Almighty had, as it were, gone to sleep, and left us for a time to ourselves: as He did once go to sleep in a vessel, on the sea of Galilee, and when a great storm rose, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full, the disciples came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we perish: carest Thou not that we perish ?“ Upon which our gracious Lord arose, and “rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still; and the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” That short, and earnest prayer of the Apostles, “Lord, save us, we perish,” is the very pattern of a prayer for a Christian man to use when troubles and temptations come thick upon him, so that he scarcely knows which way to turn.  It is a good prayer for the whole Church, in the time of persecution, decay, or distress.  She knows that her Lord is with her; for He has promised to be with her always.  So far the Christians of all times are like the Apostles.  But as He was asleep, so it often seems to our timid eyes and minds, as if He had forsaken us, and were gone to sleep: and then we naturally betake ourselves to earnest prayer, as the Apostles did, “Lord, save us, we perish:”  “O Lord, raise up, we pray Thee, Thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us.”

It is not only a prayer, but a cry; the cry of helpless creatures, in overpowering distress and anguish, to Him Who alone can help and deliver them.  It answers to the cry of the Israelites by the shore of the Red Sea, the sea before and the Egyptians behind; to the prayer of Jonah when he was in the whale’s belly, when he said, “I am cast out of Thy sight; yet will I look again,” just once more will I look again, “toward Thy holy temple.” (Jonah ii. 4.)

It is like Hezekiah’s prayer in his sore sickness, when he seemed at the point of death: " 0 Lord, I am oppressed, undertake for me:” (Isa. xxxviii. 14.) or still more is it like the sharp and eager cries of many who came to our Lord, as their only hope of healing from violent or wasting complaints, “Lord, I believe, help Thou mine unbelief:” (S. Mark ix. 24.)  “Lord, come down ere my child die:” (S. John iv. 49.) “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean:” (S. Matt. viii. 2.) “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” (S. Matt. xvii. 13.)  These, and many more outcries of those who came to our Lord in distress are in effect the same as the collect for this week: they are petitions, “that He would raise up His power, and come among us, and with great might succour us.”  That is what we pray for: and the time seems long to us, because of our great need; as it seemed long to the children of Israel in the wilderness; as it seemed long, no doubt, to Jonah whilst he waited in the whale’s belly; to Martha and Mary, while Christ tarried, and did not come directly to heal their brother Lazarus; and to S. Peter after his denial, until he saw his Lord again, thoroughly to humble himself, and to turn that way ever after.  Just so the time seems long both to the bereaved Church, and to particular Christians in affliction.  The souls of the martyrs, pleading for the Church, cry out, “Lord, how long dost Thou not avenge her cause?”

So the afflicted agonizing Christian calls out, “O Lord, make haste to help me.” But here the question might well arise; How comes all this pain, and distress, this fear and anxiety in the Church, now for so many years the chosen and happy Bride of Christ? and how is it that Christian people, long since baptized and put in reach of so high graces, find themselves yet in so great straits? Why, the collect itself gives the answer.  It is, “through our manifold sins and wickedness.” Our sins, and nothing else, are the cause, why we are “sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before us.” It is our own sins then, my brethren, from which we ask to be delivered; and that speedily.  Whether we consider the whole Church or the soul of each one of us in particular; our sin is so great an evil, and we so frail and helpless, that we know not how to be delivered from it, except by Christ’s coming especially, by His grace and providence, to deliver us.  For this therefore the Church has instructed us to pray, now that we are so near the very hour of His first coming.

That our prayer may not be in vain, let us think a little, how it is, that the sins and wickedness of Christians do so hinder them in their Christian task, in doing God’s work, and running His race.  It does not always seem so to themselves.  On the contrary, when a man is in the way of indulging any one bad desire, which has come to be a favourite with him, he is apt to fancy that he does not go on the worse for it in other respects.  The angry, the covetous, the proud and vain, nay oftentimes even the dishonest and the unclean, not only say, but really think, that they are in earnest in their devotions, and that on the whole they are getting on, in the way towards heaven.  But it is not so; it cannot be so indeed.  Our sins and wickedness really do hinder us.  Any one of them, if willfully indulged; is enough to stop us altogether, and even those which come upon us by surprise, those which we are ashamed of and strive against, are all in their measure sore lets and hindrances to us; and the further men get on in the way of goodness, so much the more do they feel this, so much the more do they grieve even for their lesser and more pardonable sins.

Good and sincere people know this very well.  But even the ordinary sort may know it, if they will.  I will try and put it before you by a plain example.  Suppose one should go to any person who is leading an irregular indevout life; irregular, I mean, in his duties towards God, making no point of going to Church, and quite neglecting Holy Communion.  If one should go to such a man, and ask him about himself, he might perhaps begin to answer about his distance from Church, his worldly troubles, his much business, or the like.  But, in the end, it would be sure to come out, that it is some sin which is hindering him: he is often provoked to anger, or tempted to take dishonest or unclean liberties, or at any rate his worldly cares haunt and trouble him; he cares too much for this world, to say his prayers in earnest to God; and for these causes he cannot serve God aright.

The waiting on Church and Communion are the race set before him, but these sins and wickednesses hinder him from running it.  Thus you see, the collect speaks the truth, when it lays the chief part of the blame of each man’s imperfection on himself.  It is not outward things, but our own unmortified desires, which let and hinder us from running our Christian race.  We are not so good as we ought to be, because we do not earnestly desire to be so.  If we would open our hearts to the good thoughts, which Almighty God from time to time puts into them: if we would let those drops of heavenly dew sink deep; if we would refresh and renew them by prayer; the difference would very soon appear in our conduct.  The evil is great; but how thankful ought we to be, that the remedy is, by God’s mercy, in our own hands.  Why should not each one of us, this very evening, begin to apply that remedy? What should hinder us, first of all, from joining with all our hearts in the collect which will presently be offered up, in which we are to beseech God that, in consideration of His Son’s being born among us and of our being new born into Him, He would daily renew us with His Holy Spirit? If we ask Him heartily so to raise up His power, and come among us and with great might succour us, without all doubt He will do so.

Of all evenings in the year, this Christmas Eve is not the one, in which our good Lord will turn away from the prayer of any poor penitent, or of any one who but desires to be a penitent.  The Angels, we know, came down on Christmas night, to rejoice with us, and teach us to rejoice at the wonderful Incarnation and Birth of our Divine Saviour; and we trust that they are not far from the hymns and carols of good Christian people, indoors, and out of doors, even on this very night.  Now they are the same Angels, of whom the Truth has told us, “There is joy in their presence” and among them, “over one sinner that repenteth.”  If then in any house, where the Christmas bells or Christmas carols are heard to-night, there be any person, who is in earnest grieved and wearied with the burthen of his sins, whatever those sins have been: let such an one look up and lift up his head, when he hears the joyful sound, let him take it as a sure token that the Lord is even now raising up His power, and coming to him, in His great and loving might, to succour him against those sins, which he now feels to have so sadly hindered him in running the race which was set before him. 

Let him make sure that the blessed Angels, who are even now keeping Christmas with us, are rejoicing in these his devout fears and misgivings: and not the Angels only, but the God of the Angels, the Blessed Babe Himself, Who this night laid Himself for us all in the lowly manger.  As surely as He was conceived at Nazareth and born at Bethlehem, so surely will He help and deliver us, and that speedily, if we do but go on sincerely desiring and striving and praying to be delivered from our sins.  He will help each one of us, and He will help His whole Church, now of a long time divided and distressed for no other reason, but that Christians will not be good. 

With thoughts like these, let us go home, examine ourselves, say our prayers, and lie down on our beds; and when we awake on Christmas morning, let us endeavour to go back to these same good thoughts: and so on morning by morning.  He will speedily help and deliver us: to us it may seem slowly, but by and by all our trials will seem to have lasted but the twinkling of an eye, if once, by His inconceivable mercy, we may be admitted to His Eternal Joy.