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The Music of Advent - Preparing for Worship and Resources for Home

Written By Ryan Egan on 12/05/2017 | Posted in Christian HistoryCongregational LifeCurrent EventsWorship

The Advent season has officially begun. With it brings the lighting of the Advent candles, Wednesday night suppers and services at Living Word, and, of course, Advent music!

I wanted to take some time to share a resource with you that first includes some of the songs we will be singing at Living Word during the Advent season. This resource will also include some of my favorite albums for this season that fly under the radar. While Christmas music is everywhere this time of year, truly Advent music can be hard to come by.

Songs of Worship at Living Word

In addition to several of the more traditional carols and songs of the season that we will sing we will also sing some songs that may be unfamiliar or new to many of you. While there is one more Christmas-themed song in here that we will sing closer to the actual holiday, the majority of these songs are meant to be Advent-specific, marking with clarity how, now that we observe the first coming every year, we are to wait in anticipation for the second coming.

Even So, Come (Come, Lord Jesus)

This song does a really good job of highlighting what will happen when Jesus returns as well as giving us a chance to express that simple prayer: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come." The song takes imagery from Isaiah's prophecy of making a straight pathway for the King and Jesus' parable of waiting for the groom to arrive and gives us a fresh way to express our longing for our Savior's return.

Savior of the Nations, Come

This beautiful hymn, penned by Martin Luther allows us to express our wonder over the first arrival of Jesus as man and put into words our longing for Him to arrive as Savior and King of all nations. With a beautiful melody and haunting harmony, the sense of longing and awe is definitely present here.

Rejoice

This is a song I try to have us sing each year during Advent as it paints the whole picture of the first and second coming beautifully. The first verse calls us to rejoice at the sovereign control of our Creator, the one with a plan in mind. The second calls us to rejoice at the birth of the Savior who was prophesied to defeat Satan ("His hell will bruise the serpent's head"). And the third verse calls us to rejoice as the "King returns on a white horse wearing a crown. I love the full picture of Christmas and Advent in this piece and the sense of complete victory it evokes.

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

While we will likely not sing this again during the season I wanted to make sure I gave reference to it here. This text is from one of the oldest liturgies known to the church. It's possible that James himself might have led/created this liturgy. The text is stunning, from the first verse proclaiming that Christ descended to earth to the last verse describing how the angels praise Him unceasingly, this also gives a full picture of God's redemptive plan.

How Sweet the Day

This wonderful modern Advent/Christmas song gives us both the perspective of how sweet the day was when Christ first appeared and how sweet the day will be "when Christ returns" and how "we'll see the One for whom we yearn" and then "look full upon His face." The chorus gives us a sense of what has already happened and what will happen, that we will "sing for joy to the Son, for Jesus our Savior has come."

Sing We The Song of Emmanuel

The rest of the songs above are very specific to Advent. This one is much more a celebration of "God With Us" already coming to us and what that means for us. I love the majesty and celebration of this piece. Matt Boswell, who is a prolific songwriter and wise theologian has made a very specific effort to create new hymn-like pieces for the church. We regularly sing "Come, Behold the Wondrous Mystery," a song he co-wrote. This one, from his Advent Messenger Hymns EP doesn't miss the mark.

Resources for Home

This is by no means an exhaustive list but I wanted to share some truly wonderful projects that I think belong in everyone's Advent and Christmas collection (by the way, my collection is extensive and likely includes something everyone would enjoy, from classical and choral/orchestral to electronic to Christmas classics to Newgrass to rock and pop and everything in between - I'd love if you wanted recommendations!)

Behold The Lamb of God

This beautiful album by Andrew Peterson gives us a full picture of the redemption story, first looking at the history of Israel and how they wanted a perfect king but didn't get one. They longed for the deliverance that was finally and truly found in Jesus Christ. He then turns the narrative around, writing that we are the ones longing and in need of deliverance. The humorous take on Matthew's genealogy is also completely worth the price of the album.

Sing The Bible Family Christmas

Randall Goodgame has produced music under the name "Slugs and Bugs" for a while. He just released this wonderful project, "Sing the Bible Family Christmas." It's word-for-word Scripture put to music inspired by the Vince Guaraldi Trio (the group behind the Charlie Brown Christmas special). This project takes familiar texts (Old Testament prophecies, the Christmas narrative, the Magnificat) and puts them to great music without deviating from the text. This is a wonderful album that will not only be fun to listen to but will also help you memorize a lot of Scripture!

Classical Guitar Christmas

This album is a complete gem, especially for those of you who like to have a little more classical and instrumental music available to you. This a full album of beautifully-arranged, beautifully-executed Christmas songs played on classical guitar. I've found it absolutely perfect for "wind-down" music at our house before bed during this season. The best part: you can get it for free! Head to the album page on NoiseTrade.com for a free copy of this album (you'll need to sign up and trade your email address to download it, but it's totally worth it).

Waiting Songs

Waiting Songs, from Rain for Roots, is another "chlidren's" album (although sometimes I find kids' albums to be just as poignant for adults) that's absolutely wonderful. Two recognizable Advent hymns bookend the rest of these wonderful Advent-themed songs. From the lesson found in "Every Valley - It's Hard to Wait" to the big picture view of God's story in "Mary Consoles Eve," this album is a wonderful way to help your kids understand the Advent season. And, the song "Zechariah" is a fun way to make John the Baptist's birth story come alive in a completely new way.

I hope you can use this list both as a resource as you prepare for corporate worship at Living Word and within your families at home during this holiday season.

Listen to and Learn Music for Sundays and Wednesdays

In the meantime, don't forget to always head to lwflc.org/music to find recordings of the songs we're singing for corporate worship.


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Ryan serves as Director of Worship & Creative Arts at Living Word. He is a follower of Jesus, husband, father of three, worshiper and creative.

T-minus six days until all-out Christmas music. #trulyexcited #bringiton

Posted on 11/19/2017
Sunday Worship at 9 am | Christian Education at 10:30 am