Advent is one of my favorite times of year. My favorite part about it is that it prepares us for 2 separate events – one that’s happened and one that is going to happen. We prepare to receive baby Jesus in the Incarnation of the nativity, and we also prepare for the second coming of our King.
There is plenty of great classical and traditional Advent music, but there is slim pickings when it comes to contemporary music. I think this is often because many Christians that produce high quality music would rather focus on Christmas music and the joys of the nativity. It’s always easier to focus on an innocent baby over the return of the Lord and the final judgement.
Last week, I wrote a full review of Advent Vol. I and Advent Vol. II by The Brilliance over at Austin Catholic New Media. I wrote it because I’m always looking for high quality contemporary Christian music, especially those that promote the tradition of the Church. I’m also fascinated that a non-Catholic Christian band would center different EPs on very Catholic themes.
What is Different About Music For Advent?
Overall, it’s a time of peace, love, and joy, but it is not the great celebration of the season of Christmas until December 25th.
Liturgically, we hold off from the Gloria, just as we do in Lent, but we still get to sing Alleluia. Seems that parts of the Gloria are always trying to sneak into songs about Advent, but there is a beauty in hinting at it as we prepare for Christmas and slowly build up to the celebration.
In Advent the use of the organ and other musical instruments should be marked by a moderation suited to the character of this time of year, without expressing in anticipation the full joy of the Nativity of the Lord. In Lent the playing of the organ and musical instruments is allowed only in order to support the singing. Exceptions, however, are Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), Solemnities, and Feasts
In Lent, the Gloria exemption is at the Solemnity of the Annunciation. Also similar to lent, the one exception we have in Advent is also about Mary – the Gloria is sung during the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Mary is a great model for Advent, or as Archbishop Gomez put it, “Advent is a season of Mary.”
The central themes revolve around the expectation of Jesus, and no one knows that better than Mary.
My Favorite Songs
My Favorites consists of new takes of traditional songs and general Christian songs of expectation. While there are many artists that have covered some of these songs, the ones below are my personal favorites. I am not claiming that these are fully faithful to the spirit of Advent, but they speak to my heart. If you are looking for truly faithful music, I recommend you look into Advent at Ephesus – by the Benedictine of Mary, Queen of Apostles.
- O Come, O Come Emmanuel (The epitome of Advent songs) – Phil Whickham or Future of Forestry
- Come Thou Long Expected Jesus – Chris Tomlin, Christy Nockels
- O Come Divine Messiah – Robbie Seay Band
- Lo! How A Rose E’er Blooming – Sufjan Stevens
- Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent – Marian Grace
- Ready the Way – Curtis Stephan
- My Soul Rejoices – Jackie Francois
- Emmanuel – Hilsong
- My Soul In stillness Waits – Select versions
- Come Lord, Jesus – Tyler Richardson, Janie Evans
- Holy Is His Name – Any version
- People Look East – Some versions
- What wondrous Love – Marian Grace
- Word Became Flesh – Castle Island Hymns
- Ave Maria – Any Version
- Mother of God – The Brilliance
- God in Flesh Our Hope Divine (for the last days of Advent) – The Brilliance
- Wake Up O’Sleeper – Legacy Worship Band
- Come and Reign – Emu Music
- Even so, Come – Josh Via
- In the Stillness – Tyler Richardson
- Lo He Comes in Clouds Descending – Tangled Blue
If you like this list and use Spotify, subscribe to the playlist below.
Share your favorite Advent songs in the comments.