Carole Taylor & Lezle Williams
Gibbs Smith, 2010
My husband and I have been part of three different church small groups since we’ve been married. The second of those groups had a tradition of holding a Christmas party every December, and the highlight of the party (to me, at least) was always the Lessons and Carols service we did. For those of you unfamiliar with Lessons and Carols, it’s a simple service of Scripture readings interspersed with Christmas hymns. The readings tell the story of the Fall, the promise of the Messiah, and the Incarnation – and there is opportunity to worship through song after each passage is read.
Christmas Eve is a sort of do-it-yourself version of a Lessons and Carols service. Pages alternate between Scripture (KJV) passages, beautiful engravings, and familiar carols. The musical score is included for each song, but since we don’t have a piano and my husband and I aren’t the world’s greatest a capella singers, I burned a CD that we can play when it’s time to sing.
Lezle Williams’ black and white engravings are striking and inviting of contemplation. Even though they probably won’t appeal as much to a preschooler as, say, Christmas Is Here, I still think that it has a strong place in a family library. After all, it’s good to give children the chance to respond to beauty in its many forms. We won’t know what speaks to them until we try lots of different things!
The main content difference between Christmas Eve and the traditional Lessons and Carols format is that this book only includes texts from the Gospels instead of also using texts from Genesis and Isaiah. The 9 carols are all familiar, and most of you probably already have recordings of all of the songs in your stash of Christmas tunes.
Our family is planning to use this wonderful clothbound book as the template for our own Christmas Eve service on those years we’re unable to attend our church because of travel or weather. On the years when we spend Christmas elsewhere, we might even read it the evening before we head on the road so we can celebrate Christ’s birth as an immediate family before joining to celebrate with our extended families. It would be great to have on hand if you’re hosting a Christmas party, too! Whether you think you’ll read it as a family or small group, Christmas Eve is one of those books that will surely become a much-loved tradition.