The Book of Occasional Services 2018 of the Episcopal Church and many other sources provide bidding prayers for a service of Advent lessons and carols that are modeled on the famous bidding prayer used at the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at Kings College, Cambridge, each Christmas Eve. The King’s prayer is superb, but Advent is different than Christmas and a wholly different prayer seems advisable.
The prayer used last Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, at St. Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue in New York seems like a terrific example to follow. The service it introduces was not “lessons and carols” per se. It was listed in the schedule as “An Advent Procession” and on the leaflet as ‘O Come, O Come Emanuel’: A Service for Advent based on the Great ‘O’ Antiphons of Advent. While the bidding does not explicitly invite the congregation to a series of readings that follow nor to join in the Lord’s Prayer at the end, it could be easily altered to do this. The prayer is not perfect, but for those seeking a bidding prayer more tailored to the themes of Advent, it is a good place to start.
A screenshot of the prayer is below, but potential users would do well to listen to Father Carl Turner’s careful proclamation of it. The YouTube video below should begin at this point of the service. The entire leaflet is available here.
Other posts on bidding prayers are available here.