The people that in darkness sat
            a glorious light have seen;
the light has shined on them who long
            in shades of death have been.

To hail thee, Sun of Righteousness,
            the gathering nations come;
they joy as when the reapers bear
            their harvest treasures home.

For unto us a child is born,
            to us a Son is given,
and on his shoulder ever rests
            all power in earth and heaven.

His name shall be the Prince of Peace,
            the everlasting Lord,
the Wonderful, the Counsellor,
            the God by all adored.

His righteous government and power
            shall over all extend;
on judgement and on justice based,
            his reign shall have no end.

Lord Jesus, reign in us, we pray,
            and make us thine alone,
who with the Father ever art
            and Holy Spirit One.

Words: John Morrison (1750–1798) based on Isaiah 9.2-7


Isaiah 61: 1-4, 8-end

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,

    because the Lord has anointed me;

he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,

    to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives,

    and release to the prisoners;

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,

    and the day of vengeance of our God;

    to comfort all who mourn;

to provide for those who mourn in Zion—

    to give them a garland instead of ashes,

the oil of gladness instead of mourning,

    the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,

    the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.

They shall build up the ancient ruins,

    they shall raise up the former devastations;

they shall repair the ruined cities,

    the devastations of many generations.

For I the Lord love justice,

    I hate robbery and wrongdoing;

I will faithfully give them their recompense,

    and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.

Their descendants shall be known among the nations,

    and their offspring among the peoples;

all who see them shall acknowledge

    that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,

    my whole being shall exult in my God;

for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,

    he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,

as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,

    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

For as the earth brings forth its shoots,

    and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,

so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise

    to spring up before all the nations.

Psalm 126

1  When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,

   then were we like those who dream.

2  Then was our mouth filled with laughter

   and our tongue with songs of joy.

3  Then said they among the nations,

   ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’

4  The Lord has indeed done great things for us,

   and therefore we rejoiced.

5  Restore again our fortunes, O Lord,

   as the river beds of the desert.

6  Those who sow in tears

   shall reap with songs of joy.

7  Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed,

   will come back with shouts of joy,

      bearing their sheaves with them.

John 1: 6-8, 19-28

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said,

“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’”

as the prophet Isaiah said.

Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.


Bless the Lord, the God of Israel,

who has come to set us free.

He has raised for us a Saviour

sprung from royal David’s tree.

Through his prophets God had spoken

of the hope the Christ would bring;

of his faithfulness and mercy

let each generation sing.

Long ago God made a promise

he would set his people free,

that in all our life and worship

we might know true liberty,

to be holy, to be righteous

in his sight throughout our days;

now this child will be a herald

making ready all God’s ways.

Let all people know salvation

through forgiveness of their sin,

as our God in his compassion

bids a shining dawn begin.

So may all who dwell in darkness

see the shadows disappear

while he guides our feet in pathways

where his peace is ever near.

To the Father be all glory

with the Spirit and the Son,

as it was, is now and shall be

while eternal ages run.

Words: Anne Harrison

Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent

God for whom we watch and wait,

you sent John the Baptist to prepare the way of your Son:

give us courage to speak the truth,

to hunger for justice,

and to suffer for the cause of right,

with Jesus Christ our Lord.


Come, thou long-expected Jesus,

born to set thy people free;

from our fears and sins release us;

let us find our rest in thee.

Israel's strength and consolation,

hope of all the earth thou art;

dear desire of every nation,

joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver;

born a child and yet a king;

born to reign in us for ever;

now thy gracious kingdom bring.

By thy own eternal Spirit,

rule in all our hearts alone:

by thy all-sufficient merit,

raise us to thy glorious throne.

Words: Charles Wesley (1707–1788)

Copyright: Common Worship © The Archbishops' Council  © The Archbishops' Council 2000;
Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. 
Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Hymns are reproduced under CCLI: 938092 and CCLI Streaming Licence 1001311