Poetry for Lessons and Carols


Several years ago, Bromleigh McCleneghan offered this possibility of poetry that might be included in our telling of the Christmas story. It’s a great list with excellent reflection as to why one would include poetry that you should totally read on Fidelia’s Sisters.

In telling this story — year after year — I have found that it to be vitally important to find new ways to proclaim the incarnation. It can quickly become a sweet story with some impossible truths that no one wants to tackle. I don’t want that to happen. Because I believe in a stillspeaking God — a God who is still coming into the broken places of this world, a God who is still living in flesh, a God who is still using our words and our questions toward the possibility of hope. And though that stillspeaking hope is there in Matthew and Luke and John, our ears only hear the familiarity of the story rather than the radical justice.

Every year, I look for new poetry to add to the telling of this radical justice — but I can’t help but return to some of my favorites. I repeat them. Because I love them. The words still startle and delight me. I want to hear them. I need to hear them and be reminded that this is what the incarnation is all about. But, as God is stillspeaking, I am always looking for some new poems. I have found that there is not a tremendous resource on the Google if you go looking for Lessons and Carols with poetry.

Bromleigh’s article pops up first — as it should. But, we need more poetry.

Hear me poets!?! We need you.

Slowly but surely, I add more to my collection of good poems. Some of my favorites will always include (and this list expands every year as my love of poetry grows and grows):

BC:AD by U.A. Fanthorpe
Those Who Saw the Star by Julia Esquivel
First Coming by Madeleine L’Engle
The Risk of Birth by Madeleine L’Engle
Christmas Comes by Ann Weems
 To Listen, To Look by Ann Weems
All Who Seek You by Rainier Maria Rilke
On the Mystery of Incarnation by Denise Levertov
Che Jesus by Anonymous
Salutation and Descent by Luci Shaw 
Everything is Waiting for You by David Whyte
The Nativity by Mary Karr
Christmas Comes by Maren Tirabassi 
Hush by Lucinda Hynett
Song for the Poor at Christmas by Christine Rodgers
Beginnings by Edwina Gateley
The Other Annunciation by Amy Frykolm
Silent Night by Bonnie Thurston
Remembering That It Happened Once by Wendell Berry

This year, I decided that the silly animated telling of the Christmas story from Luke 2 just doesn’t work for the congregation I’m serving now. It’s a bit too informal and requires a bit more formality so I’m doing a Lessons and Carols experience that is specifically designed for children. The above poems truly do not work so I had to find some poems with simpler language. As we tell the story on Christmas Eve, we’ll include these two poems:

Wishing by Agnes Mary
Let Us Keep Christmas Beautiful by Garnett Ann Schultz

What words of poetry help you to believe in the radical hope of Christmas?

One thought on “Poetry for Lessons and Carols

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