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  • Anne Simpson

Advent Songs and Hymns: Part 1

Advent is a time of preparation for the great feast of Christmas, the incarnation of Jesus Christ. It is a time for introspection, a time for longing, a time for the darkness of winter to shroud us in shadow where in the deepest darkness a new light dawns for us. Christ is this light! Are we ready for Him?

I thought I would take a moment to share my favorite Advent songs and hymns with you, that you might turn down the worldly holiday-pop tunes, and turn up the sacred ones. Surround yourself with beauty so that you may be more apt to recognize Beauty when He comes as a little babe!

The first three here (Part 1) are my absolute favorites, the next three (Advent Songs and Hymns: Part 2) are hymns to Our Lady, and the final part of the list (Advent Songs and Hymns: Part 3) are also some favorites but not in a particular order.

At the end of each part, a link to my YouTube “Sacred Advent” playlist is at the very end - I’ll be adding on to it as the season progresses. It is public so feel free to listen or share.


1. O Come O Come Emmanuel

The most iconic song of the advent season, this is the song my children sing around the dinner table at meal blessing during Advent, with holy candles lit, at the top of their lungs “REJOICE REJOICE”. Composed of the 7 “O Antiphons” which lead up to the birth of Christ beginning on December 17th, these are the antiphons recited before the Magnificat canticle at evening prayer. They are rich in Old Testament symbolism of Christ; O Wisdom, O Lord, O Root, O Key, O Dayspring, O King, O Emmanuel.

For something different, here's a beautiful rendition of the Veni Veni Emmanuel by the King’s Singers:

Here's a great article by Father Roger Landry about The O Antiphons:

Meditation Notes on the O Antiphons


2. Rorate Coeli

This one is also a classic and my Advent isn't complete without singing it. Here it is set as a hymn, often used in the Divine Office. These words are beautiful for meditation and included below!

Listen HERE to the Benedictine Sisters of Mary singing!


3. O Come Divine Messiah

A French carol from the 16th Century, this one just makes me happy! As with almost all French music, it's rhythm is dancelike. The cheerful expression of longing is filled with excitement and the joy of the season. I'm adding the text for this one as well.

A charming children's choir rendition:


For my playlist (which I'll be adding to as the season rolls along), check me out here:


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