There is such a totally different atmosphere between the first and (technically) the third liturgy of the Nativity - and each is absolutely wonderful and neither is the whole. I can't imagine for the life of me attending only Midnight or only the Christmas Day service. They each hold forth the Christmas gem in different ways; the one holds it up to candlelight and the marvel of shepherds and angels, singing above a manger. But the Day liturgy? It is the radiant Sun coming out of His chamber, rejoicing as a strong man to run His race - the glories of the Word Made Flesh, who came to give us new birth, imparting to us by grace all that is His by nature.
Now I have a confession to make: I used to try to make the Christmas liturgies "special." You know, substitute "Angels We Have Heard on High" for the Gloria in Excelsis (even though we haven't sung the Gloria all Advent, and are aching to let it ring out again!); moving the collect for the Midnight service to post-communion so it was prayed in the candle-light; things like that. But many years ago now, I totally stopped trying to make anything "special" out of the liturgies and just let them be. All creative juices, if you will, were to be poured forth into proclamation and into the musical presentation of the hymnody and such. Wow. What a difference it has made! So very, very many folks commented on the beauty of the services (just as they frequently do each year), and yet the liturgy was simply straight out of the book. The only "addition" if you will was reading the Kalends before the Divine Service actually began. The liturgy doesn't need to be made special; it just begs to be prayed.
Don't misunderstand me - the festive tone rang out at every turn! Thinking of this morning's liturgy, Carlo's stunning preludes and postlude, the sound of the full organ with timpani for "O Come All Ye Faithful," the use of the torches with the Cross, the choir singing the Introit and Gradual, the bells playing during the Offering, and the extra pieces during distribution - especially the choir's anthem "A Virgin Most Pure" and Rachel and Cindy Gleason's duet on "He is Born the Child Divine" and the last triumphant "Now Sing We, Now Rejoice!" But all that was accomplished with leaving the liturgy INTACT.
And while I'm mentioning it, consider it too for the funerals, dear pastors! Your big job is the sermon there. Pour your heart and soul into it, but let the funeral liturgy stand as it is - for every idiosyncratic change you make actually diminishes that masterpiece. Do not take the prayers away from the people of God; them open their hymnals and follow right along. After festival liturgies, the services that I receive most kind comments on are our funerals, of all things! And we simply do them exactly as they are printed in our Hymnal. Perfection shouldn't be monkeyed with!
A blessed and joyous first day of Christmas to you, one and all!