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Advent 4A

Updated: Dec 16, 2022


You can find a YouTube playlist here with many of the songs suggested below.



Gathering


It’s worth looking at O come, O come Emmanuel (CH 273 / MP 493) today as an opening song, even if you’ve already used it during Advent, as it links well into both the naming of Jesus as Emmanuel and his family connections to David. Holy is our God / Lift us his name (MP 1326 / CCLI) would also link to the focus on the naming of Jesus while Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness (CH 201 / MP 529), Come, thou long-expected Jesus (CH 472 / MP 102) and All who are thirsty (MP 1025 / CCLI) are some more general options to consider.


If you are using an Advent candle lighting song then Christmas is coming (CH 282 / CP 34) and Advent candles tell their story (STF 165 / link) are good options for the pattern of Hope, the Prophets, John the Baptist, and the Virgin Mary, while Hope is a candle, once lit by the prophets (CH 284) and We are a people of hope (Hope) work well for the Hope, Peace, Love, Joy themes.



Word


You might like to use a short Advent song before the reading of scripture. This is a good opportunity to give some musical continuity to the season, either by using the same song each week or by using songs in a similar style. The following songs all have a similar text, praying for Jesus to come, but use a mix of English, Latin and Aramaic: Maranatha (MV 19), Come, come Emmanuel (link), Veni, veni (WGRG), and Veni Immanuel (WGRG). There are also some settings of plainchant which can work well here as continuity through the season, with the simplicity of the music allowing an opportunity for the power of the words to really sink in. The Advent Prose (NEH 501) is widely sung throughout Advent while O heavenly Word of God on high (NEH 2) would be another option.


Psalm 80 does not have many well known settings. However, Restore us again (PFAS / pdf) would be easy to pick up and use responsorially. For a metrical setting, O Shepherd, hear and lead your flock (PFAS / Hymnary) is set to the tune used in North America for O Little town of Bethlehem, so you have the option to use that or to use 'Forest Green' which would hint towards the coming of Christmas for those in the UK. Shine on us (CCLI) is an option which focuses on just the repeated cry in verses 3, 7 and 19 rather than setting the whole psalm.



Response


The passages today are quite tightly themed together and with it being the Sunday before Christmas there is always likely to be a clear focus on themes that lead us towards Christmas Day.


We have the very short story of the birth of Jesus and it’s foretelling in Isaiah but without much focus on extra characters around the birth itself so consider Christmas songs such as O little town of Bethlehem (CH 304 / MP 503), Child in the manger (CH 314 / MP 71) and The kindness and the love (Resound) which keep a focus on Jesus and also have some sense of anticipation while we are still in Advent. Saviour of the nations, come (Hymnary) is a classic hymns which is not so well known in the UK but would link extremely well to the themes in the readings.


Matthew has a particular focus on Joseph and the angel appearing to him so it could be worth considering some of the few songs which explore this such as When Joseph was bridegroom (WGRG), As Joseph lay in troubled sleep (GIA) and O Joseph, awaken, let go of your fear (GIA).


Another theme is the naming of Jesus as Emmanuel and there are a great range of short songs linking to this which could be picked up quickly including Emmanuel (MP 121 / CCLI), Jesus, name above all names (CH 774 / MP 375) and Wonderful counsellor (Resound) which is a simple round. To the name of our salvation (CH 471) and God with us (CCLI) are longer song but would also pick up some of the themes from the Epistle.



Sending


With Christmas round the corner it makes sense to end with songs which focus on Jesus coming very soon and what difference that will make in the world. Options for hymns include When out of poverty is born (CH 291), Christ is coming! let creation (CH 475), Lo, he comes with clouds descending (CH 477 / MP 424) and Hail to the Lord’s anointed (CH 474 / MP 204). The latter also has alternative versions by New Scottish Hymns (New Scottish) and Indelible Grace (link) which would be better suited to bands while Come Lord Jesus (CCLI), Even so come (CCLI) and Waiting here for you (CCLI) are some other possibilities.


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