Advent 2016 Worship Series Overview

Second Sunday of Advent, Year A

Becoming aware of the end of the universe as we know it that Christ will bring about, we are invited to repent, to turn from our attachments to the powers of death and destruction in this age, and live out of the Spirit-led mission of the coming reign of God.

Even So Come

Chris Tomlin’s hymn of longing serves as the musical focal point for this service. Mirroring the impassioned pleas of John as he cried out in the wilderness, this hymn allows the congregation to be both anxious and confident in waiting.

One of the best ways to introduce new songs (this one can be found on ccli.com or youtube) is to pair them with ritual action. Dividing up the song and singing it at different points throughout the service will allow for continuity, flow, and retention as the song is sung. It also frames the text of the song and the liturgy in a way to elevate the worship dynamic.

The modality of this tune makes it a haunting choice for Advent, and singing it in D works best when paired with “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” in E minor (I understand this may be confusing, but there are a number of factors to be considered, including the modal nature of parts of “Even So Come” and the opening note of each stanza). This is also a key that works well with healthy congregational singing. It might be helpful to note that the Advent Sanctus featured in The Great Thanksgiving was written to be paired with “Even So Come.” The time signature, rhythms, and chord progressions were created to be aligned with this tune, so further cohesiveness is possible through worship.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

One of the most well-known ancient hymns of the church, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is based upon the “O Antiphons” contained on the second page of the hymn in The United Methodist Hymnal. These antiphons were chanted refrains used in worship, one per day, during the last eight days of Advent leading up to Christmas Eve. Like the original antiphons, this hymn sings of the longing and somber nature of the Advent season. We have recommended its use in the opening set of this service, poignantly paired against a modern expression of yearning for Christ’s coming. Have a soloist sing the first stanza in a very legato (smooth and connected) manner with a brief pause on the last note of each phrase; then invite the congregation to sing the second stanza. Remove the plodding nature of the accompaniment and allow the melody to stand on its own as the stanzas originally did — as a haunting, unaccompanied chant. Or for a different approach, play a low E pedalpoint on an instrument such as organ, piano, cello, or bass, and bring in harmonies (with voices or instrumental accompaniment) on the refrain. Read History of Hymns: "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" »

Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning (Advent Candle)

This African American spiritual can be found at the provided link to the Discipleship Ministries website and is an easy song to teach and sing. The song is quite simple, repetitive, and reasonably easy to sing a cappella. Other accompaniment can be used, however, whether it be piano, organ, guitar, or even a simple obligato on a flute. There are lots of creative possibilities in the use of this haunting song, and quite enough even to make the accompaniment different every week during the lighting of the Advent wreath. View and download the musical score for Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning »

O-so-so (Come Now, O Prince of Peace)

During the 2016 General Conference, a moving presentation of the status of the Korean peninsula shed light on the poignancy of this selection. Expressing the longing of North and South Korea to be reconciled and reunited as one people, this song beckons Christ to come and make reconciliation possible. This logically, then, becomes an expression of Advent longing. A simple and haunting melody makes this easy to teach and sing. Keep the accompaniment simple and allow this short text to shape the character of worship. Read History of Hymns: "O-so-so" »

Come, Lord Jesus, Come

Rounding out the possibilities for the lighting of the Advent Wreath, “Come, Lord Jesus, Come” is a four-word cyclic song that uses the tune BEERSHEBA, composed by Dean McIntyre for the song “Peace, Salaam, Shalom” (found in Worship & Song). Rising in a series of melodic sequences that remain in the ear long after singing them, this option presents the congregation with a simple way to sing in their hearts, even outside of worship, throughout the Advent season. The mourning character of the melody would be effectively played by a violin, whether before, during, or after the singing of the text. View and download the musical score for Come, Lord Jesus, Come »

Angels We Have Heard on High

The refrain of this carol will be an effective way to incorporate a familiar seasonal hymn within the Advent liturgy. Many within your congregation will long to sing Christmas carols, but using refrains such as this within the worship service will go a long way toward building congregational morale as the season continues. This refrain will serve as an effective way to echo the Gloria boldly proclaimed just before (“We are forgiven! Glory to God!”) and transition into the Great Thanksgiving. Have a soloist begin a cappella as a way to pierce through the usual hum of the passing of the peace and call others to sing. A recommendation would be to sing the refrain twice, with or without accompaniment. Read History of Hymns "Angels We Have Heard on High" »

Gloria, Gloria

The Taizé Community is the source of this bold setting of the heavenly chorus from Luke 2:14. Many churches are able to sing canons even if they have never tried (think of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”). Be brave and take a moment to teach this song before worship begins. Another great help to teaching a canon is dividing your choir on the parts and having them support the divisions within the congregation. Ultimately, if a two-, three-, or four-part canon would cause more harm to the liturgy where you are, be encouraged — it is also possible to sing this chorus in unison, a cappella, or with a simple accompaniment of piano, organ, or handbells. If you have children, youth, or adults in your congregation who play instruments, simply divide them up and play the canon as the congregation sings in unison. The possibilities are endless!

Advent Sanctus

This new chorus within the Great Thanksgiving was created for this Advent season and is written to complement the use of the hymn, “Even So Come,” by Chris Tomlin. Written by Jackson Henry, the chorus, “Heaven and earth are full of your glory,” repeats throughout this setting of the Sanctus, which features a lilting, yet longing melody. The voice is the primary musical leadership with this tune and can be accompanied by piano, guitar, organ, or band. Some rhythmic element, however, may be required to help with the tune itself. For instance, even if a piano is playing simple chords, the strum pattern of a guitar or a light djembe might make the hymn easier to sing. Using this in Eucharistic services throughout Advent will create a cohesiveness that will endure through the season. View and download the musical score for Advent Sanctus »

Come, O Redeemer, Come

One of the most haunting tunes in all United Methodist collections, “Come, O Redeemer, Come” can be used in any setting — traditional, modern, or other — with a variety of instrumentations, from a solo guitar, piano, or organ to full band. The plaintive nature of the melody serves the character of Advent well. The final refrain can even be sung in canon, with certain voices staggered one measure after the refrain begins.

What Feast of Love

This Communion hymn by Delores Dufner is well suited for this season, particularly because of the incorporation of the tune GREENSLEEVES. The text addresses the food, hope, and drink found at the table and beautifully addresses the incarnation as “the bread,” “the sun,” and “sweetest wine,” all “come down from heaven.” The accompaniment can be as simple as organ or piano, but the folk nature of this English melody can come to life when accompanied by a guitar or other plucked string instrument, along with a wind instrument, such as a flute. Read History of Hymns "What Feast of Love" »

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

The text of this hymn is mysterious in its presentation of Christ descending to earth because it is a wonderful use of anamnesis (bringing the past into the present) and prolepsis (bringing the future into the present). The fullness of time is addressed as we acknowledge Christ’s presence with us in the past and when God’s reign comes in fullness upon the earth. Although a powerful hymn on the organ, there are a multitude of ways to embody the mood of the hymn:

  • Organ accompaniment, either as written or altered.
  • Choral hum on an open D chord (D, A), with a soloist leading the congregation on a unison melody.
  • The same hum played as a drone on the organ.
  • Even though it is not a plainchant, it could be sung in the same manner, a cappella with unison melody.

Read History of Hymns "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" »

Toda la Tierra

As with many of the Spanish-language hymns found in our collections, this Advent hymn is characterized by a very interesting melody that can be sung with a variety of accompaniments — piano, organ, guitar, flute, and more. I personally recommend the use of a finger-picked guitar and flute/oboe. It is set in the key of D, which is very guitar-friendly and also an ideal key for these concert-pitched woodwind instruments. Many scriptural images are found in this treasure of a hymn. Singing it could easily bring people into the prophetic narratives throughout the Old and New Testaments and encourage them to become prophetic leaders themselves! Read History of Hymns "Toda la Tierra" »

Prepare the Way of the Lord

Another canon from the Taizé Community, “Prepare the Way of the Lord” invites the congregation to join Isaiah’s words describing the message of John the Baptist. This canon would work well as a two, three, or four-part canon, and has enough lively bounce to keep the tune moving. However, incorporating a simple hand drum to provide rhythmic interest would enliven the song and also help keep the congregation on pace.

Down by the Jordan

Carolyn Winfrey Gillette has penned a wonderful hymn that can be used in Advent and/or for Baptism of the Lord. LOBE DEN HERREN is one of the most well known tunes throughout the church, and it possesses a certain inherent boldness that effectively pairs with John’s message. My recommendation would be to sing stanzas 1 and 2 during Advent. Singing stanza 3 during Advent is a bit preemptive since we have not encountered those Scriptures yet within the narrative of the Revised Common Lectionary. Stanza 4, however, serves as a great reminder for the church in any season, so it could effectively be paired with the first two stanzas or with the third stanza to make the hymn contextual to its particular day and time. You can view and download the musical score of Down by the Jordan, or find it in Worship & Song.

Wild and Lone the Prophet’s Voice

This hymn by Carl P. Daw, Jr. is paired with a somber tune in The Faith We Sing that effectively embodies the character of the Advent season. Another option would be singing this text with the tune ABERYSTWYTH, which, though in a different musical meter, maintains the character that musically resembles the wilderness within which John preached. The metaphors found in this hymn become a part of our lives, so encourage the congregation to meditate on who the prophets are and where the desert is in your community.

In This Series...

First Sunday of Advent — Planning Notes Second Sunday of Advent — Planning Notes Third Sunday of Advent — Planning Notes Fourth Sunday of Advent — Planning Notes Christmas Eve — Planning Notes Christmas Day — Planning Notes Epiphany Sunday — Planning Notes


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In This Series...

First Sunday of Advent — Planning Notes Second Sunday of Advent — Planning Notes Third Sunday of Advent — Planning Notes Fourth Sunday of Advent — Planning Notes Christmas Eve — Planning Notes Christmas Day — Planning Notes Epiphany Sunday — Planning Notes