2015 Christmas Celebration


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Welcome to Aberdeen for our Christmas celebration.

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Tonight a congregation and choirs from Aberdeen University

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are joined by Emily Smith, Barbara Dickson and Robert Lovie,

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to bring you a mix of well-loved carols and readings.

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For many centuries Aberdonians have been gathering here

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at the Cathedral Church of St Machar to mark Christmas Eve.

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Here's today's university chapel choir with Ding Dong Merrily On High.

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# Ding dong merrily on high

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# In Heaven the bells are ringing

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# Ding dong verily the sky

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# Is riven with angels singing

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# Gloria

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# Hosanna in excelsis

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# Gloria

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# Hosanna in excelsis

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# E'en so here below, below

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# Let steeple bells be swungen

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# And io, io, io

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# By priest and people sungen

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# Gloria

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# Hosanna in excelsis

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# Gloria

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# Hosanna in excelsis

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# Pray you dutifully prime

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# Your matin chime, ye ringers

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# May you beautifully rime

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# Your eve time song, ye singers

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-# Gloria

-Gloria Gloria Gloria Gloria Gloria

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# Hosanna in excelsis

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-# Gloria

-Gloria Gloria Gloria Gloria Gloria

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# Hosanna in excelsis. #

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Bairnie Jesus born for me

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Hear this sang in praise o' ye

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Just like the folk o' Galilee

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I praise ye in yer glory.

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Dauntlit on yer mammy's knee

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Bairnie Jesus pure and wee

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On Christmas day this sang I gie

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Tae tell the auld, auld, story.

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Love came doon tae the world that nicht

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The stars shone oot wi a' their micht

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That folk aroon' could see the sicht

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O' the bairn in the Christmas story.

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I canna gie ye gifties grand

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Myrrh an gowd frae a foreign land

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Bit I hae a sang, sae weel I can

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Sing oot tae tell o' yer glory.

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# Long time ago in Bethlehem

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# So the holy Bible say

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# Mary's boy child Jesus Christ

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# Was born on Christmas Day

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# Hark now, hear the angels sing

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# A new king born today

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# And man will live for evermore

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# Because of Christmas Day

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# While shepherds watched their flock by night

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# They see a bright new shining star

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# They hear a choir sing

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# The music seemed to come from afar

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# Now Joseph and his wife, Mary

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# Came to Bethlehem at night

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# They find no place to born she child

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# Not a single room was in sight

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# Hark now, hear the angels sing

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# A new king born today

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# And man will live for evermore

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# Because of Christmas day

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# By and by they found a little nook in a stable all forlorn

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# And in a manger cold and dark

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# Mary's little boy was born

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# Hark, now hear the angels sing

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# A new king born today

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# And man will live for evermore

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# Because of Christmas day

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# Trumpets sound and angels sing

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# Listen to what they say

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# That man will live for evermore

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# Because of Christmas day

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# That man will live for evermore

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# Because of Christmas day. #

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Different Gospels tell the story of Jesus' birth in different ways.

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The wise men are described in Matthew's Gospel

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and the shepherds and angels in Luke's.

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As we go into Christmas morning it's mostly Luke's

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story we are following in our traditional carols

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and readings, as well as a new version of an old spiritual,

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Heard From Heaven from Emily Smith.

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"At that time the Emperor Augustus ordered a census to be taken

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"throughout the Roman Empire.

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"When the first census took place

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"Quirinius was the governor of Syria.

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"Everyone then went to register himself, each to his own town.

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"Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the

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"town of Bethlehem in Judea, the birthplace of King David.

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"Joseph went there because he was a descendant of David.

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"He went to register with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him.

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"She was pregnant, and while they were in Bethlehem, the time came

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"for her to have her baby. She gave birth to her first son,

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"wrapped Him in strips of cloth and laid Him in a manger.

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"There was no room for them in the inn."

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# A baby born in Bethlehem I heard from Heaven today

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# A baby born in Bethlehem I heard from Heaven today

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# Hurry on, my weary soul

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# I heard from Heaven today

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# Hurry on Oh, my weary soul

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# I heard from Heaven today

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# The wise men looked and they followed that star

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# I heard from Heaven today

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# The wise men looked and they followed that star

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# I heard from Heaven today

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# Hurry on, my weary soul

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# I heard from Heaven today

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# Hurry on Oh, my weary soul

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# I heard from Heaven today

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# The shepherds heard the angels' song

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# I heard from Heaven today

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# The shepherds heard the angels' song

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# I heard from Heaven today

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# Hurry on, my weary soul

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# I heard from Heaven today

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# Hurry on Oh, my weary soul

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# I heard from Heaven today

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# There's a bell ringing in that other bright world

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# I heard from Heaven today

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# A bell ringing in that other bright world

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# I heard from Heaven today

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# Hurry on, my weary soul

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# I heard from Heaven today

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# Hurry on Oh, my weary soul

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# I heard from Heaven today

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# Hurry on, my weary soul

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# I heard from Heaven today

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# Hurry on Oh, my weary soul

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# I heard from Heaven today. #

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"In that part of the country there were shepherds spending the night in

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"the field taking care of their flocks.

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"An angel of the Lord appeared to them

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"and the glory of God shone on them.

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"They were terribly afraid but the angel said to them,

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"'Don't be afraid.

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"'I am here with good news for you which will bring great joy to

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"'all the people.

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"'This very day in David's town your saviour was born,

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"'Christ the Lord.'

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"Suddenly a great army of Heaven's angels appeared with

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"the angel, singing praises to God.

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"'Glory to God in the highest Heaven,

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"'and peace on Earth to those with whom He is pleased.'"

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"When the angels had gone away from them back into Heaven

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"the shepherds said to one another, 'let's go to Bethlehem

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"'and see this thing that has happened

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"'which the Lord has told us.'

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"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph

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"and saw the baby lying in the manger."

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# The Angel Gabriel from Heaven came

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# His wings as drifted snow

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# His eyes as flame

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# All hail, said he, thou lowly maiden Mary

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# Most highly favoured lady

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# Gloria

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# For know a blessed mother thou shalt be

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# All generations laud and honour thee

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# Thy son shall be Emmanuel

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# By seers foretold

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# Most highly favoured lady

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# Gloria

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# Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head

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# To me be as it pleaseth God she said

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# My soul shall laud and magnify His holy name

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# Most highly favoured lady

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# Gloria

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# Of her Emmanuel, the Christ, was born

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# In Bethlehem all on a Christmas morn

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# And Christian folk throughout the world will ever say

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# Most highly favoured lady

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# Gloria. #

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Now to the story of the wise men with their gifts of gold

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and frankincense and myrrh as told in Matthew's Gospel.

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"Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea

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"during the time when Herod was king.

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"Soon afterwards, some men who studied the stars came from the east

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"to Jerusalem and asked, 'where is the baby born to be

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"'the king of the Jews?

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"'We saw His star when it came up in the east

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"'and we have come to worship Him.'

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"When Herod heard about this he was very upset

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"and so was everyone else in Jerusalem.

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"He called together all the chief priests and the teachers

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"of the law and asked them, 'where will the Messiah be born?'

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"'In the town of Bethlehem in Judea,' they answered.

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"So Herod called the visitors from the east to a secret meeting

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"and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.

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"Then he sent them to Bethlehem with these instructions.

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"'Go and make a careful search for the child and when you find Him

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"'let me know so that I too may go and worship Him.'

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"And so they left and on their way they saw the same star

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"they had seen in the east.

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"It went ahead of them

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"until it stopped over the place where the child was.

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"They went into the house and when they saw the child

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"with His mother Mary, they knelt down and worshipped Him.

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"They brought out their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh

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"and presented them to Him."

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Gold. We never hear of this gift again.

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What use was gold to one who dined at the tables of other men

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and took lodging where He could?

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Frankincense.

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We never hear of this gift again.

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What use was frankincense to one who worshipped where He stood?

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The sky above Him a bigger cathedral than any built by man.

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Myrrh.

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We never hear of this gift again.

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What use was myrrh to one who took healing

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so seriously that He did it without herbs and medicines?

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I begin to wonder if Matthew was telling us a story here.

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A story which points out that the old ways of organising society

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and human relationships

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are made bankrupt by the coming of this child.

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Do the wise men say to Him, "This is the best we have got.

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"Now show us a better way."

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But maybe we're meant to be impressed by the wise men.

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Their gifts speak of the harvest of resources

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which we have at our disposal.

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Were they saying to Him, "The riches of the Earth are yours,

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"and to you they properly belong.

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"Show us how to use them.

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"Take our gold, and tell us how to redeem it, Redeemer Child.

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"Tell us how to dig deep in our pockets

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"for the victims of natural disasters.

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"People who need our gold today and for many days to come.

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"Take our frankincense and tell us again how to redeem it,

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"redeemer child.

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"Tell us that worship is about the giving of self,

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"the offering of self,

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"not some cosy activity we indulge in to get a feel-good factor

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"coursing through our own veins.

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"Take our myrrh and tell us again how to redeem it, Redeemer Child.

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"Tell us that healing is always a gift,

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"and that some healing is done by the words we do NOT say,

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"when to say the crass and the obvious is to wound,

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"and to say the blissful is to lift and mend."

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A few weeks ago at St Andrews Cathedral in Glasgow,

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Barbara Dickson sang her new version of a carol that

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dates back 1,000 years, and has been sung all over Europe ever since.

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Of The Father's Love Begotten.

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# Of the Father's love begotten

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# Ere the worlds began to be

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# He is Alpha and Omega

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# He the source the ending He

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# Of the things that are that have been

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# And that future years shall see

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# Evermore and evermore

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# At His Word the worlds were framed

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# He commanded, it was done

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# Heaven and Earth and depths of ocean

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# In their threefold order one

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# All that grows beneath the shining

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# Of the moon and burning sun

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# Evermore and evermore!

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# O that birth forever blessed

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# When the virgin, full of grace

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# By the Holy Ghost conceiving

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# Bear the Saviour of our race

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# And the Babe, the world's redeemer

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# First revealed His sacred face

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# Evermore and evermore!

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# This is He whom seers in old time

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# Chanted of with one accord

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# When the voices of the prophets

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# Promised in their faithful word

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# Now He shines the long expected

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# Let creation praise its Lord

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# Evermore and evermore!

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# O ye heights of Heaven adore Him

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# Angel hosts His praises sing

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# Powers, dominions bow before Him

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# And extol our God and King

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# Let no tongue on Earth be silent

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# Every voice in concert sing

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# Evermore and evermore!

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# Thee let old men, Thee let young men

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# Thee let boys in chorus sing

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# Matrons, virgins, little maidens

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# With glad voices answering

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# Let their guileless songs re-echo

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# And the heart its music bring

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# Evermore and evermore! #

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The Christmas story does have its darker moments.

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When Herod heard that Jesus was born, he responded by lashing out,

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killing innocent children.

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We think of how the past all that time ago has resonances today

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in a reading from Matthew's Gospel, a carol,

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and a contemporary reflection.

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After they had left,

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an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said,

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"Herod will be looking for the child in order to kill Him,

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"so, get up, take the child and His mother, and escape to Egypt,

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"and stay there until I tell you to leave."

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Joseph got up, took the child and His mother,

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and left during the night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod died.

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Lord, you arrived safely in Egypt,

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though we don't know what the journey was really like.

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Today's refugees may have to travel dangerously to reach

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a place of safety in unseaworthy boats in the Mediterranean,

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in the backs of lorries across the Channel.

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A desperate few fatally in the wheelhouse of a jumbo jet.

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Protect them on their journeys

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from the rapacity of those who want to profit from their helplessness.

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From the greed of wealthy nations,

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who want to keep too much of the world's wealth for themselves.

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From the unscrupulous who may prey upon them when they arrive,

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and may an angel keep guard over them.

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We're almost at the end of our Christmas celebration.

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I hope you've enjoyed singing along.

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In a moment, we'll hear the closing prayer,

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and then we'll sing O Come All Ye Faithful.

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But, first, the Aberdeen University Chamber Choir is going to sing

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Wherever You Are.

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It was composed by Professor Paul Mealor for the Army Wives Choir,

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but it's got a resonance for us all,

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as we think about those we love wherever they are this Christmas.

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Wherever you are, I wish you a very happy one.

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# Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah

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# Ah-ah-ah

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# Ah-ah

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# Wherever you are, my love will keep you safe

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# My heart will build a bridge of light

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# Across both time and space

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# Wherever you are, our hearts still beat as one

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# I hold you in my dreams each night

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# Until your task is done

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# Light up the darkness, my wondrous star

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# Our hopes and dreams, my heart and yours

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# Forever shining far

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# Light up the darkness, my prince of peace

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# May the stars shine all around you

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# May your courage never cease

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# Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

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# Wherever I am, I will love you day by day

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# I will keep you safe, cling on to faith

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# Along the dark, dark way

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# Wherever I am, I hold on through the night

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# I will pray each day, a safe return

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# Will look now through the light

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# Light up the darkness, my wondrous star

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# Our hopes and dreams, my heart and yours

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# Forever shining far

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# Light up the darkness, my prince of peace

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# May the stars shine all around you

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# May your courage never cease

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# Ah-ah-ah-ah

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# Ah-ah-ah

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# May your courage

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# Never cease. #

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Come to us, Lord Jesus Christ.

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Come as we search the Scriptures and see God's hidden purpose.

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Come as we walk the lonely road, needing a companion.

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Come when life mystifies and perplexes us.

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Come in to our disappointments and our needs.

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Come at table, where we share our food and hopes.

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And, coming,

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open our eyes to recognising you.

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Amen.

0:40:280:40:30

# Yea, Lord, we greet thee

0:43:160:43:22

# Born this happy morning

0:43:220:43:27

# Jesus, to Thee be glory given

0:43:270:43:35

# Word of the Father

0:43:380:43:43

# Now in flesh appearing

0:43:430:43:48

# O come, let us adore Him

0:43:480:43:53

# O come, let us adore Him

0:43:530:43:58

# O come, let us adore Him

0:43:580:44:04

# Christ

0:44:040:44:09

# The Lord. #

0:44:090:44:14

Sally Magnusson introduces carols and readings from the Cathedral Church of St Machar in historic Old Aberdeen, with Barbara Dickson, Emily Smith, Robert Lovie and choirs and congregation from Aberdeen University.


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