An Order of Worship in Honor of St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, with Blessing of Stockings

It's really easy to get the idea that Christmas is about getting stuff. It's not just about taking, but taking the gifts that God has given to us and spreading them around.
—David W. Wagner, Assistant Rector
We want our children and youth to know that donating and volunteering is one way to continue in Nicholas' spirit and a way to contribute to the mystery of Christmas. We want them to know that their efforts are valued and can make a difference, but we also want them to see the enormity of the need in our community.
—Michelle McDonnell, Coordinator of Children & Family Ministries
Children listening
St. Martin's in-the-Fields Episcopal Church
Columbia, South Carolina

The short service is preceded by an activity time of simple coloring or other craft, such as a St. Nicholas ornament. People arrive by 5, the service begins at 5:15 and is over by 5:45, followed by a simple treat. The service isn't held in the nave, though it could be. Chairs are set up with a center aisle. Parents and other adults gather there for the service while the children gather in another place to process in. The children process in stocking feet, as their shoes have been left to be filled with chocolate coins, pulling wagons filled with filled Christmas stockings that have been donated by the parish for distribution to local social service agencies. The children also carry their own Christmas stockings. They gather around the priest, sitting on the floor in front of the adults in chairs.

All stand, and the Officiant greets the people with these words.

The Lamplighting

Officiant: Light and peace, in Jesus Christ our Lord.
People: Thanks be to God.


Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one lights a lamp to put it under a bucket, but on a lamp-stand where it gives light for everyone in the house. And you, like the lamp, must shed light among others, so that they may see the good you do, and give glory to your Father in heaven."

Officiant: Let us pray.

Prayer for Light

Lord Christ, your saints have been the lights of the world in every generation: Grant that we who follow in their footsteps may share our light as well, giving food to those who are hungry and love to those who are lost or alone. Amen.

Candle Lighting

The acolyte will light the candles situated on the altar. Once all candles are lit, everyone will sing

Hymn: O Gracious Light, The Eighth Tune, Thomas Tallis

O gracious Light, Lord Jesus Christ, in you the Father’s glory shone.
Immortal, holy, blest is he, and blest are you, his holy Son.

Now sunset comes, but the light shines forth, the lamps are lit to pierce the night.
Praise Father, Son and Spirit: God who dwells in the eternal light.

The people sit.

The Lesson

Gospel Lesson: Mark 10: 13-16

Hymn: The Song of St. Nicholas, traditional, Jolly Old St. Nicholas

In the town of Myra once also long ago,
Lived good Bishop Nicholas hair as white as snow.
Nicholas loved Jesus who loved and helped us all.
"I will do the same," said he, "helping great and small."

Thankful Bishop Nicholas friendly, good and wise;
When he could, helped the poor always by surprise
Rich men came to Nicholas bringing wealth to share
So it could be sent to those living in despair

We should be like Nicholas thankful, good and kind,
Loving those who need our help, all the ones we find.
Jesus and Saint Nicholas taught us how to give:
Share but never seek reward, that is how to live!

The Prayers for the Day


Litany for the Feast Day of St. Nicholas

Leader: O God, you are our heavenly Father. We are your children:
Help us to know you and trust you.
People:Lord, hear our prayer.
Leader: O God, you have always loved us. We are your children:
Help us to love you with our whole hearts.
People:Lord, hear our prayer.
Leader: O God, we know that we do not always love our neighbors
as ourselves. We are your children:
Help us to love others as Jesus taught us to do.
People:Lord, hear our prayer.
Leader: O God, life is hard at times. Things like war, hunger, poverty, and
sickness frighten us. We are your children:
Help us to have courage.
People:Lord, hear our prayer.
Leader: O God, we are often confused by the many temptations that keep us
from being close to you. We are your children:
Send your Holy Spirit to guide us.
People:Lord, hear our prayer.
Leader: O God, you have given us many blessings. We are your children:
Help us to be more like St. Nicholas who shared his blessings with others.
People:Lord, hear our prayer.

The Collect for the Feast of St. Nicholas

Almighty God, in your love you gave your servant Nicholas of Myra as an example of deeds of kindness, both on land and sea: we pray, that your Church may never cease to work for the happiness of children, the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and help of those tossed by the tempests of doubt or grief, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Blessing of the Stockings

The Stockings for Others
Bless, O Lord, these stockings that we have prepared to give secretly—like St. Nicholas—to other children, that these gifts might be a sign of your love for them and for all children and adults everywhere. And bless the hearts and hands that have filled them full to overflowing because we know that this love began with you. Amen.
Our Own Stockings
Dear God, please bless our stockings that we hang up on Christmas Eve in anticipation of gifts and treats. Help us to be surprised by the joy of unexpected graces and gifts that come our way. And help us to always be mindful of how we might generously share our gifts with others, following the example of blessed St. Nicholas. Amen.

Closing Hymn Good St. Nicholas of Myra
(sung to REGENT SQUARE, the tune of "Angels from the Realms of Glory")

Good St. Nicholas of Myra,
deeds and legends tell his fame.
Saintly bishop, friend of children,
Bari pilgrims chant the name:

Blessed Nicholas, Blessed Nicholas,
He loved all in Jesus’ name.

Miracles and signs and wonders,
he performed to praise the Lord.
For a poor and weary people,
source of care and joy outpoured:


May his ways of true devotion
guide us on our earthly way.
Challenge us to be more like him
as Christ’s gospel we obey:




The following information about St. Nicholas is printed inside the front cover of the order of service:

Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra

When Dec. 6 comes around, the feast day for St. Nicholas, many of us remember receiving small gifts from Saint Nicholas in our shoes. It’s close to Christmas, too, so we can sometimes be tempted to think of Santa Claus at this time. It’s interesting to look a little more closely at one of the favorite Saints of all time and the story behind his generosity and gift-giving.

Nicholas is the national saint of Russia and Greece, and churches named after him number in the thousands—more than 400 in Great Britain alone. He is the patron saint of judges, murderers, pawnbrokers, thieves, merchants, paupers, scholars, sailors, bakers, travelers, maidens and poor children. He is also known as the friend and protector of all those in trouble.

Saint Nicholas was born in the Middle East in the fourth century. He grew up to become the bishop of Myra. His hometown was Lycia, near the coast of what is now Turkey. Legends tell of his love for children, his kindness and the miracles that have been attributed to him.

The most famous story about Nicholas tells of how he helped three unfortunate young sisters who all had suitors but had no dowries because their father, a poor nobleman, could not raise the money. Because of this, they could not marry. The Bishop Nicholas was a shy man and did not like to give money directly, so he thought of a way to give it anonymously. One night, as the first daughter approached the age to marry, the good bishop secretly went to the family’s house and was able to sneak a bag of gold inside without being seen. Later, when the second daughter prepared to marry, she too received a mysterious bag of gold. When the third daughter prepared to marry, the poor nobleman and father of the three girls was determined to find out who had been so generous. So he kept watch and saw the bishop drop another bag of gold into the house.

It has been said that Saint Nicholas climbed on the roof and dropped the third bag of gold down the chimney where it landed in a stocking hung to dry, giving us a reason to hang up Christmas stockings today. When the father saw what had happened, Nicholas begged him to keep the secret, but, of course, the news got out. From then on, whenever anyone received an unexpected gift, they thanked Nicholas.

From St. Martin's in-the-Fields Episcopal Church, Columbia, South Carolina. Used by permission.

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