This Article is taken from the series ‘A Rookie Anglican Guide’ and looks specifically at Advent.

What is Advent?

Advent is the first season of the Church year. It lasts for four weeks leading up to Christmas Day on December 25th.

Why is it called “Advent”?

“Advent” comes from the Latin adventus, meaning “coming or arrival.”

Used by the Church, the word refers to:

– The “arrival” of Jesus Christ when he was born on the original Christmas Day

– The upcoming “arrival” of Jesus Christ when, as Christians believe, he will return to judge the living and the dead.

So, the season of Advent is a season of preparation and waiting:

First for Christ’s second coming to judge the living and the dead (2 Pet 3:11-14; 1 John 3:2-3), but also to celebrate Christ’s first arrival at Christmas.

Just as the Israelites awaited a Messiah to fulfil God’s promises from Genesis 3:15 to Jeremiah 31:31-34 and beyond, so Christians await the return of Jesus the Messiah to make all things new (Revelation 21).

How do you celebrate Advent? What are some common practices during Advent?

  • Keep an Advent calendar
  • Light an Advent wreath

What’s the difference between Advent music and Christmas music?

Perhaps the classic piece of Advent music is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” because it reflects Advent’s emphasis on waiting and expectation.

Christmas music, on the other hand, emphasizes the joyful celebration of Christ’s arrival at the Incarnation. “Joy to the World” comes to mind, but if you read the lyrics to that song closely, you’ll notice that they’re actually about the second coming of Jesus, not his birth.

So, maybe think of “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” as a paradigmatic Christmas song.

Songs for Advent

Here are some of the better-known songs from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship’s helpful list of Songs for Advent:

•             Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus – Charles Wesley

•             Hark, the Glad Sound! The Saviour Comes – Philip Doddridge

•             Imagine – Keith and Kristyn Getty

•             Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence – Gerard Moultrie

•             Love Divine, All Loves Excelling – Charles Wesley

•             My Soul Cries Out with a Joyful Shout – Rory Cooney

•             O Come, O Come, Emmanuel – ancient hymn

•             Of the Father’s Love Begotten – Aurelius Clemens Prudentius

•             Saviour of the Nations, Come – Ambrose, 4th century; Martin Luther

•             Soon and Very Soon – Andraé Crouch

Advent Collects and Collect Reflections

In the Anglican tradition, each week of the Church year has a special prayer, called a “collect,” used during Sunday worship and then for the following week.

Here are the collects for Advent. If you click on the titles, it will take you to the Anglican Compass Collect Reflection for that week—a short blog post to help you reflect on the collect!

The First Sunday in Advent

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Second Sunday of Advent

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and the comfort of your holy Word we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Third Sunday of Advent

O Lord Jesus Christ, you sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise make ready your way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient toward the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world, we may be found a people acceptable in your sight; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Fourth Sunday of Advent; Annunciation

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and as we are sorely hindered by our sins from running the race that is set before us, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honour and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Acknowledgement to the Author: Joshua Steel is Managing Editor at Anglican Compass. He is a priest in the Anglican Church in North America, serving at Church of the Saviour in Wheaton, IL (Diocese of C4SO). Josh is also a Ph.D. Candidate in theology at Wheaton College Graduate School.