Are there any popular Christmas prayers?

What are some popular Christmas prayers and where did they come from? Since Christians have celebrated Christmas, specific prayers have been a part of it. It could be said that the earliest Christmas prayer is that of the virgin Mary, offered in song form in Luke 1:46-55. This became known as the Magnificat and is still used in Christian worship services today. Beyond this, however, we may first note that in the early church fixed prayer seems to have been a regular part of worship. This was in line with Judaism and its regular fixed hours of prayer. While there is disagreement as to the exact details of Jewish and early Christian prayer systems, it is clear that “Christians, like Jews, adopted the custom of praying at fixed times, and that the most important times for public liturgical prayer in common in both traditions were the beginning and end of the day.”[1] As Christmas became an official celebration of the church in the 4th century, it was natural that the liturgy and prayers of the church would reflect the holiday and would include specific prayers used for Christmas. In the history of the church, there have been countless prayers used in one form or another to celebrate Christmas, from ancient to modern times. Below is only a brief sampling of prayers over the years from a few different Christian traditions.


The Roman Catholic Liturgy of the Hours

The Liturgy of the Hours, also referred to as the Divine Office or Breviary, includes the official set prayers of the church offered at various times during the day. They are a “prayer of the Church as a body” and a “guide to genuine spiritual growth for the individual soul.”[2] Below are three prayers from Christmas Day liturgies:

“We entreat You, God all-powerful: may the new and wonderful birth of Your incarnate Son deliver us from the old slavery which holds us down under the yoke of sin! This we ask of You through the same Jesus Christ.”[3]

“Father, we are filled with the new light by the coming of your Word among us. May the light of faith shine in our words and actions. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.” [4]

“Almighty God and Father of light, a child is born for us and a son is given to us. Your eternal Word leaped down from heaven in the silent watches of the night, and now your Church is filled with wonder at the nearness of her God. Open our hearts to receive his life and increase our vision with the rising of dawn, that our lives may be filled with his glory and his peace, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.”[5]

The Anglican Book of Common Prayer

The Book of Common Prayer is the liturgical prayer book of the Anglican church. The following is from the Christmas Day liturgy:

“Almighty God, who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure Virgin: Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by they Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.”[6]


The Lutheran Altar Book

The Lutheran Altar Book is designed to aid the minister in leading congregational worship. The following three prayers are for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day:

“O God, because you once caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light, grant that we who have known the mystery of the Light here on earth may come to the full measure of its joys in heaven; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.”[7]

“O God, as you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.”[8]

“Grant, almighty God, that the birth of your only-begotten Son in human flesh may set us free, who through sin are held in bondage; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.”[9]


The Presbyterian (U.S.A.) Book of Common Worship

“God of grace and truth, in Jesus Christ you came among us as light shining in darkness. We confess that we have not welcomed the light, or trusted good news to be good. We have closed our eyes to glory in our midst, expecting little, and hoping for less. Forgive our doubt, and renew our hope, so that we may receive the fullness of your grace, and live in the truth of Christ the Lord.”[10]

“God Most High, your only Son embraced the weakness of flesh, to give us power to become your children; your eternal Word chose a dwelling among us, that we might live in your presence. Grant us a spirit of wisdom to know how rich is the glory you have made our own, and how great the hope to which we are called in Jesus Christ, your Word made flesh, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, in the splendor of eternal light, God forever and ever. Amen.”[11]


Other Works

There are many modern books full of Advent and Christmas prayers that are found easily in libraries and bookstores. Lists of Christmas prayers can also be found online from both anonymous and named authors. While it would be nearly impossible to do justice to everything available, below are five examples from modern books written for Christmas observance and celebration:

“Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born this day of a pure virgin: Grant that I, who have been born again and made your child by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through my Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.”[12]

“O God, you have caused the holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that I, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.”[13]

“Christ among us, Light of the World, heal our brokenness, and bring us to wholeness, ease our pain, and bring us hope, strength, and life. Give us new heart, new hope, and a new song, that our prayers and deeds may be one. We ask it in your name. Amen.”[14]

“Mighty and merciful God, born into this flesh, and in this flesh living in this world, we seek the support and refuge of every earthly thing and power, and though life brutally and forcibly forces us to drop one thing after another, we return again and again to put our trust in things obvious to sense and use, although there is no hope but in thee and no lasting joy save in thy kingdom. Lead us, therefore, beyond all the outer ramparts of this changing earth to the eternal city of thy grace through Jesus Christ our Lord, that we may give thanks unto thee forever and forever. Amen.”[15]

“Steadfast and ever loving God, you anointed Jesus with the oil of gladness and brought him into the world to reflect your glory: Give us joyful hearts that we may welcome the Word of life and come to know you through the Light that

[1] Robert Taft, The Liturgy of the Hours in East and West: The Origins of the Divine Office and Its Meaning for Today, 2nd rev. ed. (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1993),  11. See also David Scott, “Prayer,” in Encyclopedia of Christianity, ed. John Bowden (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 966, 969.

[2] The Hours of the Divine Office in English and Latin, prepared by the staff of The Liturgical Press (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1963), 1.

[3] Ibid., 1153.

[4] Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1976), 146.

[5] Ibid.

[6] The Book of Common Prayer (London: Canterbury Press Norwich, 2008), 148.

[7] Lutheran Worship: Altar Book, prepared by The Commission on Worship of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (St. Louis: Concordia, 1982), 164.

[8] Ibid., 165.

[9] Ibid., 166.

[10] Book of Common Worship, prepared by The Theology and Worship Ministry Unit for the PCUSA (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1993), 180.

[11] Ibid., 187.

[12] Phyllis Tickle, Christmastide: Prayers for Advent Through Epiphany from The Divine Hours (New York: Galilee, 2003), 149.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Brian Wren, Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany: Liturgies and Prayers for Public Worship (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2008), 99.

[15] Samuel H. Miller, What Child is This? Readings and Prayers for Advent/Christmas (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982), 23.

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