Music Resources for Advent No. 1 – Advent Hymns

This is the first of a series of posts to help you prepare for Advent, on Advent hymns. (Get to the bottom, and l’ll tell you what the picture is….)

The hardest task for any parish musician is always choosing the hymns. Everyone has an opinion about hymns – they love No.22 but they hate No.151 etc. The rule of thumb should be that hymns are good but as long as they do not replace the designated texts of the Mass. This is particularly problematic with the Opening Hymn V the Introit. Last year Ben Whitworth of Orkney Chant did a series of excellent posts on singing the Introit on the First Sunday of  Advent to lots of different melodies including hymns tunes. There are plenty of resources available on the internet for hymn tune melodies including Christopher Tieze’s book in hymn introits and Kathleen Puth’s metrical texts which you can adapt to your favourite hymn tune that uses the same metre.

The purpose of this article though is to give you a bumper list of tried and tested strophic hymns you can sing during Mass or for an Advent carol service or just at home. An updated version of the list l did last year.  For the record, l have always found hymn-choosing difficult in Advent. You know you shouldn’t really be singing O Come O Come Emmanuel until after the 17th December when the O Antiphons start but it’s tough when hardly anyone seems to know any of the good Advent hymns.


  • Hark! A herald voice is calling (W.H.Monk)
  • Lo ! He comes with clouds descending – Queen Victoria loved this tune (apparently)
  • Come Saviour, come like dew (Rorate Caeli)
  • Creator of the Stars of Night (Creator Alme Siderum)
  • Wait for the Lord (Taize)
  • O Jesus Christ remember
  • On Jordan’s bank (it’s not one of my favourites)
  • Hail to the Lord’s anointed (Crucifer 7676 D)
  • Fling wide the Gates (Same melody as Lift High the Cross Crucifer 10 10 )
  • The voice of God (Sung to melody of Tell Out my Soul – Woodlands )
  • O Come, O Come Emmanuel. (We usually start singing this as the Recessional on 3rd Sunday in Advent)
  • The Angel Gabriel (Everyone’s favourite for the fourth Sunday in Advent)
  • When the Angel Came to Mary (St Day Carol)
  • Long ago, prophets knew (Persononent Hodie melody)
  • THE HYMNS YOU MIGHT HAVE TO WAIT A LITTLE LONGER TO SING… (they may not be well-known)
  • Awake, awake fling off the night
  • Wake, O wake with tidings thrilling
  • he King shall come when morning dawns (This can be sung as a round)
  • O heavenly word eternal light (Breslau)
  • Before the earth – David M. Young
  • When the king shall come again (16th century melody)
  • Christmas is coming (John L.Bell)  You might think this is an odd choice  but l think for children the texts of the verses are quite beautiful.
  • Comfort, comfort, now my people (Tricky timing)
  • O comfort my people (Trad Irish)
  • Come, thou long-expected Jesus (John Stainer)
  • Lift up your heads you mighty gates (18th century)
  • Like the dawning of the morning – Fr Faber (Fr Tim Finigan’s favourite Advent hymn)

    THE HYMNS YOU will just have to wait another year for:-

    • Abba, abba Father.
    • Our God reigns.   (Dangerous, people start singing about drains.)
    • City of God
    • Like a sea without a shore :  Estelle White  (Marantha to EW fans)
    • Come to set us free (Farrell)
    • I rejoiced (Stephen Dean) – Not a good idea to get congregations singing a top E first thing on a Sunday morning. Really not fair on the celebrant.
    • Though the mountains may fall (Advent retro classic)
    • Stay awake (Chris O’Hara)
    • The servant King “From heaven you came…..” etc (Another Advent retro classic)
    • Out of darkness (Walker)
    • God beyond all name
    • My soul in stillness waits – Marty Haugen


    If you have a favourite Advent hymn or one you particularly loathe then stick it in the comments box.
    (And the photo : It’s O Come, O come Emmanuel in Pitman shorthand – of course.)



2 thoughts on “Music Resources for Advent No. 1 – Advent Hymns

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