Lessons and Carols for Advent

by Chris Cherwien

“Now we wait. We wait for the child to be born.
We wait for the newness that God is bringing into the world.”

Advent is a season of anticipation, longing, and hopefulness. This year, after almost two years in a pandemic, these themes, and the emotions that they invoke, are heightened. We long to see signs in our lives and in our communities that Jesus is present. We need to hear the promises that only God can give.

Consider offering your congregation a service that delves deeply into the hopefulness and promises of Advent. The Procession with Carols on Advent Sunday originated at King’s College, Cambridge, England in 1934. Dean Eric Milner-White, who nine years earlier wrote the famous Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols for Christmas Eve, wrote in his preface, “In the old English liturgies, the Advent Offices made a preparation for the coming of our Lord to this earth far more vivid and eager than those of our present [1662] Prayer Book. So an Advent Carol Service, if without precedent, is not without suitability, if it helps to express ‘the desire of all nations and ages.’ The purpose of the service is ‘not to celebrate Christmas, but to expect it.’”

In a culture that begins advertising Christmas before we have put away our sandals and shorts, we need the longing and expectation that Advent invokes.

Craft this service with scripture and carols beginning with the beautiful texts in Isaiah and possibly ending with John 1:1-14. I have listed below some scripture passages and hymns that you might consider for your planning. Our congregation has our children, youth, and handbell choirs lead the service. This provides the perfect opportunity for our young singers and ringers to learn the beautiful Advent hymns.

Scripture & Hymns:

  • Isaiah 9:2-7                       ELW #247 Come, Now, O Prince of Peace
  • Isaiah 11:1-9                     ELW #248 People, Look East
  • Isaiah 35:1-2 & 5-7           ELW #242 Awake! Awake, and Greet the New Morn
  • Isaiah 40:1-5                     ELW #266 All Earth Is Hopeful
  • Micah 5:2-4                       ELW #254 Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
  • Zephaniah 3:14-20            ELW #239 Hark, the Glad Sound
  • Luke 1:26-38                     ELW #258 Unexpected and Mysterious
  • Luke1:39-55                      ELW #265 The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came
  • John 1:1-14                       ELW #416 At the Name of Jesus

For more ideas on creating an Advent Lesson and Carols Service go to www.sundayandseasons.com. Seasonal rites for Advent:

  • Advent Lessons and Carols 1: Savior of the Nations, Come
  • Advent Lessons and Carols 2: Based on the O Antiphons

Posted on Oct 14, 2021 9:00:00 AM
Filed Under: Hymnody, Filed Under: Advent, Filed Under: music,

Chris Cherwien

Written by Chris Cherwien

Chris Cherwien has been a church musician for over 38 years serving congregations in Minneapolis, Indianapolis, and Philadelphia. In all three cities Chris founded/co-founded summer music and arts camps for children and youth. She is currently the Director of Worship and Music at Immanuel Lutheran Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, and has been the alto section leader for the National Lutheran Choir since 2012. Chris and her husband Paul have three grown children and four grandchildren.