HymnSite.com's Suggested Hymns for the First Sunday in Advent

"Pray Watchfully"

Light the Candle of PROMISE
(Litany for lighting Advent Wreath)

Today is the beginning of Advent,

The celebration of God's Coming to us in Christ Jesus.

Advent offers us another way to see our world;

To become aware of the presence of God's Rule all around us,

To acknowledge once again that God is in charge of history.

We light this first candle

To symbolize the PROMISE of God to give us the Kingdom in answer to our watchful prayers.

God, you have PROMISED to come quickly and abide with us.


(unison:) "Even so Lord, quickly come!"
694 Come Ye Thankful People vs. 4

November 30, 1997
First Sunday in Advent

Jeremiah 33:14-16
Return of the Rule of God;
Advent is Coming!
Justice and Righteousness in the Lord;
61 Come Thou, Almighty King
203 Hail to the Lord's Anointed

Featured Hymn
211 O Come, O Come, Emanuel vs.1&4 *

Psalm 25:1-10 The Way of the Lord;
Waiting for Deliverance;

Asking for Guidance

Psalter 756 resp. 2
473 Lead Me Lord
128 He Leadeth Me: O Blessed Thought
142 If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee
127 Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
Luke 21:25-36 The Way of the Lord;
Waiting for Deliverance;
Asking for Guidance
718 Lo, He Come with Clouds Descending
720 Wake, Awake, for Night is Flying
I Thessalonians 3:9-13 Anticipation/Preparation for Paul's visit;
Getting Ready
196 Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
92 For the Beauty of the Earth

Featured Hymn
211 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Text: trans. John Mason Neale, Henry Sloan Coffin, Lawrence Hull Stookey

This is a very popular Advent hymn, sung in English speaking churches since probably the mid 19th Century. However, it's text has an origin much more ancient.

The "Great O's" or the "Seven Greater Antiphons" as the original text was known, were sung in Latin as short anthem-verses from perhaps as early as the sixth or seventh century. These Seven Greater Antiphons were sung at Vespers (Anglican) in Advent, beginning December 17, one being sung each evening until Christmas Eve. The word "antiphon" indicates that the lines were sung alternately by two choirs sitting opposite each other in the chancel. The Latin text of the antiphons is as follows:

If you remember any Latin at all or think you recognize a word or two in these stanzas you can tell that the hymn, as presented in modern hymnals, is a greatly expanded "fleshing out" of the antiphons. The capitalized Latin words in order can be translated: Wisdom, Lord, Root of Jesse, Key of David, Orient (=East), King, Emmanuel (God with us). Furthermore the order of the stanzas in English versions, bears little resemblance to the original order. This is all due to the various translators, versions, and hymnals through which the hymn has progressed through the years.

John M. Neale, who is responsible for beginning the English translation of this text, and receives credit in most modern versions with translating at least the first stanza, is known largely for his work at translating and paraphrasing from Greek and Latin texts. He single-handedly introduced the Eastern Christian ligurgical and didactic writings to the English traditions of psalmody and hymnody. Prior to his work these texts were unknown. He has to his credit ten translations in the current United Methodist Hymnal.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel first entered a Methodist Hymnal in 1935 with only three stanzas. The first stanza was credited to Neale and the second and third to Henry Sloane Coffin, noted preacher, lecturer and author.

In the current UM Hymnal, there are seven stanzas. Laurence Hull Stookey is credited with creating stanza 4 and portions of stanzas 5, 6 and 7. Also the hymn is followed by a prose antiphonal reading which can be read effectively with the singing of the hymn.

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Lection at HymnSite.com

Contributed by Rev. Linda K. Morgan-Clark

Additional Suggestion for using 211 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

For a ritual to light the Advent Wreath read Antiphon 1 (opposite hymn) then sing verse 1 and refrain. Light first candle. Read Antiphon 4, sing verse 4 and refrain.

return to Lection
Passages suggested are from The Revised Common Lectionary: Consultation on Common Texts (Abingdon Press, 1992) copyright © by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT), P.O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville TN 37203-0003. Reprinted with permission of CCT.