Advent Hymns and Canticles

What is Advent?

Advent is the four-week preparatory period before Christmas when the Church celebrates the preparation for the first coming of Christ while also anticipating His second coming. Advent usually begins in late November. These Advent Hymns relate to these themes. More info: Advent. Also of interest: Advent Prayers

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Advent wreath lit and sitting on a wooden chair

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,

And with fear and trembling stand;

Ponder nothing earthly minded,

For with blessing in His hand,

Christ our God to earth descendeth,

Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,

As of old on earth He stood,

Lord of lords, in human vesture,

In the body and the blood;

He will give to all the faithful

His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven

Spreads its vanguard on the way,

As the Light of light descendeth

From the realms of endless day,

That the powers of hell may vanish A

s the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six wing'd seraph,

Cherubim with sleepless eye,

Veil their faces to the presence,

As with ceaseless voice they cry:

Alleluia, Alleluia Alleluia, Lord Most High! 

Edward Bairstow (1874 - 1946)

O Come, O Come Emmanuel (See Latin version below)

O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear

REFRAIN: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high, Who orderest all things mightily; To us the path of knowledge show, And teach us in her ways to go. (Refrain)

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine own from Satan's tyranny; From depths of hell Thy people save, And give them victory over the grave. (Refrain)

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer Our spirits by Thine advent here; Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, And death's dark shadows put to flight. (Refrain)

O come, Thou Key of David, come, And open wide our heavenly home; Make safe the way that leads on high, And close the path to misery. (Refrain)

O come, O come, great Lord of might, Who to Thy tribes on Sinai's height In ancient times once gave the law In cloud and majesty and awe. (Refrain)

O come, Thou Root of Jesse's tree, An ensign of Thy people be; Before Thee rulers silent fall; All peoples on Thy mercy call. (Refrain)

O come, Desire of nations, bind In one the hearts of all mankind; Bid Thou our sad divisions cease, And be Thyself our King of Peace. (Refrain)  In MIDI Format

Veni, Veni, Emmanuel

Veni veni, Emmanuel captivum solve Israel, qui gemit in exsilio, privatus Dei Filio.

REFRAIN: Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel, nascetur pro te Israel!

Veni, O Sapientia, quae hic disponis omnia, veni, viam prudentiae ut doceas et gloriae. (Refrain)

Veni, veni, Adonai, qui populo in Sinai legem dedisti vertice in maiestate gloriae. (Refrain)

Veni, O Iesse virgula, ex hostis tuos ungula, de spectu tuos tartari educ et antro barathri. (Refrain)

Veni, Clavis Davidica, regna reclude caelica, fac iter tutum superum, et claude vias inferum. (Refrain)

Veni, veni O Oriens, solare nos adveniens, noctis depelle nebulas, dirasque mortis tenebras. (Refrain)

Veni, veni, Rex Gentium, veni, Redemptor omnium, ut salvas tuos famulos peccati sibi conscios. (Refrain)

O Come Divine Messiah

O come, Divine Messiah,

The world in silence waits the day

When hope shall sing its triumph,

And sadness flee away.

Dear Savior haste!

Come, come to earth.

Dispel the night and show Thy face,

And bid us hail the dawn of grace.

O come, Divine Messiah,

The world in silence waits the day

When hope shall sing its triumph,

And sadness flee away.

O Thou whom nations sighed for,

Whom priest and prophet long foretold,

Wilt break the captive fetters,

Redeem the long lost fold.

Dear Savior haste!

Come, come to Earth.

Dispel the night and show Thy face,

And bid us hail the dawn of grace.

O come, Divine Messiah,

The world in silence waits the day

When hope shall sing its triumph,

And sadness flee away.

On Jordan's Bank

On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry

Announces that the Lord is nigh;

Awake and hearken, for He brings

Glad tidings of the King of kings.

Then cleansed be ev'ry heart from sin;

Make straight the way of God within;

Oh, let us all our hearts prepare

For Christ to come and enter there.

To heal the sick stretch out Thine hand,

And bid the fallen sinner stand;

Shine forth, and let Thy light restore Earth's own true loveliness once more.

All praise, eternal Son, to Thee,

Whose advent sets Thy people free;

Whom with the Father we adore

And Holy Ghost forever more.

Charles Coffin (composed 1736)

Creator of the Stars of Night

Creator of the stars of night,

Your people's everlasting light,

O Christ redeemer of us all,

We pray You hear us when we call.

In sorrow that the ancient curse,

Should doom to death a universe,

You came, O savior, to set free,

Your own in glorious liberty.

When this old world drew on toward night,

You came; but not in splendor bright,

Not as a monarch, but the child of Mary,

Blameless Mother mild.

At Your great name, O Jesus, now,

All knees must bend, all hearts must bow;

All things on earth with one accord,

Like those in heaven, shall call You Lord.

Come in Your holy might, we pray,

Redeem us for eternal day;

Defend us while we dwell below,

From all assaults of our dread foe.

To God creator, God the Son, And God the Spirit, Three in One,

Praise honor, might, and glory be,

From age to age eternally.

Ninth century Latin hymn

The Advent of Our God

The advent of our God

Our prayers must now employ,

And we must meet Him on His road

With hymns of holy joy.

The everlasting Son Incarnate deigns to be;

Himself a servant's form puts on

To set His people free.

Daughter of Zion, rise

To meet thy lowly King,

Nor let thyfaithless heart despise

The peace He comes to bring.

As Judge, on clouds of light,

He soon will come again,

And all His scattered saints unite

With Him in Heaven to reign.

Before the dawning day

Let sin's dark deeds be gone;

The old man all be put away,

The new man all put on.

All glory to the Son

Who comes to set us free,

With Father, Spirit, ever One,

Through all eternity.

Words: Charles Coffin; Translated from Latin to English by John Chandler

Celestial Word, to This Our Earth

Celestial Word, to this our earth sent down from God's eternal clime, to save mankind by mortal birth into a world of change and time;

Lighten our hearts, vain hopes destroy; and in Thy love's consuming fire Fill all the soul with heavenly joy, and melt the dross of low desire.

So when the Judge of quick and dead shall bid His awful summons come, to whelm the guilty soul with dread, and call the blessed to their home.

Saved from the whirling black abyss, forevermore to us be given to share the feast of saintly bliss, and see the face of God in heaven.

To God the Father and the Son our songs with one accord we raise; and to the Holy Spirit, One with Them, be ever equal praise. Amen.

Sixth century hymn; Tr: W. J. Courthope

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Come, Thou long expected Jesus

Born to set Thy people free;

From our fears and sins release us,

Let us find our rest in Thee.

Israel's Strength and Consolation,

Hope of all the earth Thou art;

Dear Desire of every nation,

Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,

Born a child and yet a King,

Born to reign in us forever,

Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.

By Thine own eternal Spirit

Rule in all our hearts alone;

By Thine all-sufficient merit,

Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Words: Charles Wesley

O Come Redeemer of the Earth

O COME, Redeemer of the earth, and manifest thy virgin-birth. Let every age in wonder fall: such birth befits the God of all.

Begotten of no human will but of the Spirit, Thou art still the Word of God in flesh arrayed, the promised fruit to man displayed.

The Virgin's womb that burden gained, its virgin honor still unstained. The banners there of virtue glow; God in his temple dwells below.

Proceeding from His chamber free that royal home of purity a giant in twofold substance one, rejoicing now His course to run.

O equal to the Father, Thou! gird on Thy fleshly mantle now; the weakness of our mortal state with deathless might invigorate.

Thy cradle here shall glitter bright, and darkness breathe a newer light where endless faith shall shine serene and twilight never intervene.

All praise, eternal Son, to Thee, whose advent sets Thy people free, whom, with the Father, we adore, and Holy Ghost, for evermore. Amen.

Ambrose of Milan (338-397); tr: John Mason Neale

Bright Builder of the Heavenly Poles

Bright builder of the heavenly poles, eternal light of faithful souls, Jesus, Redeemer of mankind, our humble prayers vouchsafe to mind:

Who, lest the fraud of hell's black king should all men to destruction bring, didst, by an act of generous love, the fainting world's physician prove.

Thou, that Thou mightst our ransom pay and wash the stains of sin away, didst from a Virgin's womb proceed and on the Cross a Victim bleed.

Thy glorious power, Thy saving Name no sooner any voice can frame, but heaven and earth and hell agree to honor them with trembling knee.

Thee, Christ, who at the latter day shalt be our Judge, we humbly pray such arms of heavenly grace to send as may Thy Church from foes defend.

Be glory given and honor done to God the Father and the Son and to the Holy Ghost on high, from age to age eternally.

Seventh century Advent Vespers Hymn

How Far From Home?

How far from home? I asked, as on I bent my steps - the watchman spake: "The long, dark night is almost gone, The morning soon will break. Then weep no more, but speed thy flight, With Hope's bright star thy guiding ray, Till thou shalt reach the realms of light, In everlasting day."

I asked the warrior on the field; This was his soul inspiring song: "With courage bold, the sword I'll wield, The battle is not long. Then weep no more, but well endure The conflict, till thy work is done; For this we know, the prize is sure, When victory is won."

I asked again; earth, sea and sun Seemed, with one voice, to make reply: "Time's wasting sands are nearly run, Eternity is nigh. Then weep no more - with warning tones, Portentous sights are thickening round, The whole creation, waiting, groans, To hear the trumpet sound."

Not far from home! O blessed thought! The traveler's lonely heart to cheer; Which oft a healing balm has brought, And dried the mourner's tear. Then weep no more, since we shall meet Where weary footsteps never roam - Our trials past, our joys complete, Safe in our Father's home. Words: Annie R. Smith


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Updated 12-19-2018