Prayer Service on the Feast of Saint Nicholas

From the Roman Catholic Sint-Nicolaaskerk, Sint-Niklaas, Flanders, Belgium. The service has a lay liturgist, assisted by readers. Toys are brought to the service for distribution to children of families seeking asylum in Belgium.

2 December 2005

St Nicolas blessing village
Vintage Belgian holy card
St Nicholas Center Collection

Processional Hymn

Procession: choir and the lay liturgist, who carries the lectionary
Procession begins at the altar of Saint Nicholas, around the church to the main altar, while the congregation sings:
De vreugde voert ons naar dit huis (Joy brings us to this house)
Stanzas sung alternately by choir and congregation


Dear friends,
We are gathered here in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (making the sign of the cross).
Grace and peace from God, our Father, and Jesus Christ, our Lord.
A warm welcome to this prayer service in which we will gather around the Word of the Lord, together with the patron saint of our parish and our town, Saint Nicholas.
Let us quiet our hearts and in this place pray and become receptive to what cannot be seen and to what goes beyond words.

Opening Prayer

Good Father,
With delight we commemorate today your servant Nicholas of Myra,
He resembles your Son:
In him we see what your Holy Spirit can accomplish;
In his life we see something of your presence.
We ask you to
strengthen our hope,
that we, too, like Nicholas,
one day may rest in you peace.
This we ask through Jesus Christ,
as He alone is the Holy One,
He alone the Lord in eternity. Amen.

Psalm 101

In the oldest stories about Saint Nicholas, he emerges as
     savior of people in distress
     helper of the poor,
     helper of the oppressed,
     defender of an orthodox interpretation of the gospel,
     opponent to dishonestly acting rulers,
     defender of innocent victims of corruption and misuse of power,
     intercessor before both a civil tribunal and the heavenly one.
Psalm 101 might well have been one of the psalms that inspired
and supported him in his zeal. So, let us read this psalm together.
The Psalm 101 is read antiphonally

The Word that Inspired Nicholas

Jacobus de Voragine in The Golden Legend tells
How Saint Nicholas saved the lives of three innocent men sentenced to death.


De heiligen ons voorgegaan (The saints who went before us)


from the prophet Isaiah (11.1-5)

Hymne for Saint Nicolas choir, in Latin

Reading from the Gospel

according to Luke 4.14–21



Saints Should be Followed

Toys are brought to the altar while the organist plays variations on the children's Sinterklaas song "Zie ginds komt de stoomboot uit Spanje weer aan" (Look over there, the steamboat is coming in from Spain again)


Let us pray to God who loves us
and asks us to share this love with others,
like Jesus did, and Nicholas.
For all those charged with responsibilities
in our society,
May they always, like our Patron Saint Nicholas,
act righteously,
without self-interest,
with a warm heart for the weak.
     Let us sing in prayer . . .
     Lord Jesus, come and hear our prayer
     and give us love and peace.
May this celebration of Saint Nicholas,
the warm-hearted children's friend and liberator of the oppressed,
keep our eyes, ears and hearts open
to the poverty, the hunger, the sickness,
the exploitation and the abuse
that innumerable children can never be saved from without help;
May it incite us to be, through prayer and deeds,
a blessing for them.
     Let us sing in prayer . . .
     Lord Jesus, come and hear our prayer
     and give us love and peace.
May we, as people of this parish,
with Bishop Nicholas as our guide,
take the road to the feast of the Emmanuel: Christmas,
young at heart,
full of dreams,
and fulfilled in hope.
     Let us sing in prayer . . .
     Lord Jesus, come and hear our prayer
     and give us love and peace
Lord, our God, listen to the prayers of this congregation,
so that this feast of your servant Nicholas
may become the feast of your freely given love
for all those, who, like him,
want to walk in your way.
Let us now, standing, hand in hand, pray the prayer Jesus himself taught us, the prayer that Nicholas undoubtedly prayed so many times, and that we have in common with all Christians all over the world:
Our Father . . . .

De heiligen ons voorgegaan (The saints who went before us)

Closing Prayer

this is a week full of surprises,
of mystery,
around, and by, your servant Nicholas,
a week of being extra nice to each other.
After all, this is how Nicholas was:
one in a thousand,
righteous, encouraging,
humble, and doing good
for everyone around him.
He was a living surprise
for all those who were
in distress in every possible way.
And so he lives on
in his feast
and in us.
Lord, let us be open
to your surprises,
to everything that turns out
differently than we had dreamed.
Grant us
to be a surprise for others.

Sending and Blessing

Let us thank God and each other for this encouraging gathering in prayer.
Let us, before we leave here, do one of the most beautiful things Christians can do for each other, let us bless each other, saying, "God walks with us and 'sees that it is good.'"
Let us bless each other
in everything we do,
in everything we go through,
in everything that happens to us.
Let us bless each other
in this life we share,
vulnerable as it is.
He who is God and good, blesses us
in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.


Saint Nicholas or Black Peter enters and the fun continues in the parish house

Organ Postlude

More information and photos

From Luc Vermeulen, Sint-Nicolaaskerk, Sint-Niklaas, Flanders, Belgium. Used by permission.

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