We only get Advent hymns for four weeks, and even then mostly only in church. In fact, lots of churches don’t even do them at all. This means that they are like a rare treasure of some kind, or perhaps like fresh fruit with a short growing season, or those pies you can only have at Christmastime. In other words, you have to enjoy them enough while they;re available to save up that enjoyment for the whole rest of the year.
Yesterday I had class and meetings, and I put A Robert Shaw Christmas on in the car. It contains Christmas music, for sure, but also some wonderful Advent hymns, and it was like having my eardrums and brain massaged. Not that I’ve ever had my eardrums or brain massaged, but I think that conveys the feeling of hearing these gorgeous tunes.
I therefore have two for you today. Both are English hymns from the 18th century, and both focus on the idea of Advent as a time of waiting not only for Christmas, but also for the Second Coming of Christ.
You might be amazed that this is a theme of Advent, but it is, and it is the subject of quite a few lovely hymns which are rarely sung in mainstream American churches.
Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending is rarely sung in the average Protestant church, as the words are a bit emo for us. Anglicans sing it, though, and have since 1752 when it was written. It’s very beautiful, though.
The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns was translated from the Greek in 1907, and no one seems to know who wrote it in the Greek in the first place. While the words are sung to a couple of different tunes, both are very pretty. I’ve linked you to a major and a minor version: take your pick. Both of these are more singable that “Lo, He Comes…” so they may be the best choice for singing around the house or workplace today.
On the other hand, you may not like these stately tunes as much as I do. In that case, my alternative suggestion is Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson. I’m singing this with a community choir this weekend, but my favorite version is by Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes. To the extent that I have a favorite version. I will be really glad never to have to sing “PUMP! kin pie” again after this weekend.
This 1946 song is a lively one, though, and may be more suited to your day than the other songs I proposed.