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Angels and their harps provide the narrative during the carol, "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear," with part of the lyrics talking about darkness and light:

"And still their heavenly music floats

O'er all the weary world;

Above its sad and lowly plains

They bend on hovering wing.

And ever o'er its Babel sounds

The blessed angels sing."

That song, with Taize meditative and repetitive singing, and the classic "Silent Night" will be part of the Blue Christmas service at 6 p.m. Tuesday at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 2136 Brady St., Davenport.

In addition, a Blue Christmas service is 6 p.m. Thursday at Two Rivers United Methodist Church, Rock Island. It is led by the Rev. Robb McCoy.

An event like the Blue Christmas service traces back centuries, said the Rev. Sara Olson-Smith, associate pastor at St. Paul. It is held on a date near the winter solstice, a time of worship since ancient times, and often on the longest night of the year.

That places it close to Christmas, which can be difficult for those who are in grief, suffering from loss or having a hard time, the minister said.

The long night represents darkness, and as Christians, the belief is that Christ's birth leads to a promise of light and hope.

"We create space for people to feel hope," she said.

Grief, illness, aging, depression, loneliness, unemployment and loss can be magnified during the holidays. During the service, Olson-Smith said there is a time of silence, and time for prayer.

In addition, songs are sung and people are invited to come forward, to light candles in memory of someone, or in longing for some goodness in the world.

Life gets so haggard and busy, she said. "It can be helpful to gather with others and know we are not alone."

At Two Rivers United Methodist Church, McCoy hopes to provide a break.

"When everything around you is telling you be 'be of good cheer,' but inside, you're just hurting, the Blue Christmas service gives a voice to that part of you," he said.

The service itself will be simple at Two Rivers. There will be silence, quiet, contemplative music, prayer, Communion and a ritual for healing.

Above all, the service is a chance to tell the truth of life in a quiet setting during a time of year that can be very noisy, McCoy said.