Advent Wreath Prayers and Scripture Readings
A Free Devotion for Families, Schools, and Churches
The Advent wreath is a popular devotional tradition related to Advent, the Church season immediately before Christmas. The Advent wreath is used among many Christians, both Catholic and Protestant. It is often used as a devotion in homes, churches, and schools.
The Advent wreath was first used as a Christian devotion in the Middle Ages. It gets its design from the customs of pre-Christian Germanic and Scandinavian cultures, who used candles and greenery as symbols of light and life during the dark and cold European winters. The Advent wreath is a circular evergreen wreath with four or five candles, three purple, one rose (pink), and (if you use the five-candle type), one white candle for Christmas Day placed in the very center of the wreath. Some Christians prefer to use blue candles instead of the traditional purple ones.
The candles symbolize the light of Christ coming into the world. The evergreen symbolizes renewal, and the circular shape the completeness of God. The candle colors are derived from the traditional liturgical colors of Advent (purple and rose) and Christmas (white). Each candle is first lit on the appropriate Sunday of Advent, and then the candles may be lit each day as a part of the individual or family's daily prayers.
Certain candles have been given various names and designations:
Candle 1 – Hope and/or Patriarchs (purple)
Candle 2 – Peace and/or Prophets (purple)
Candle 3 – Joy and/or John the Baptist (rose)
Candle 4 – Love and/or the Virgin Mary (purple)
Candle 5 – Christ, the Light of the World (white)
Before using an Advent wreath, many people choose to bless it. Check out our Advent Wreath Blessing page to find an appropriate blessing!
Advent Week One
Directions: Light the first purple candle.
Prayer: Stir up thy power, O Lord, and come, that by thy protection we may be rescued from the dangers that beset us through our sins; and be a Redeemer to deliver us; Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Alternate/Complementary Prayer: O Emmanuel, King and Lawgiver Desire of the nations, Savior of all people, Come and set us free, Lord, our God.
Advent Week Two
Directions: Light the first purple candle and repeat first week's prayer. Light the second purple candle.
Prayer: Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the paths of thine Only-begotten Son: that we may worthily serve thee with hearts purified by His coming: Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Alternate/Complementary Prayer: O King of all nations, Jesus Christ, only joy of every human heart, O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, Come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.
Advent Week Three
Directions: Light the first purple candle and repeat first week's prayer. Light the second purple candle and repeat second week's prayer. Light the rose candle.
Prayer: We beseech thee to listen to our prayers, O Lord, and by the grace of thy coming enlighten our darkened minds: Thou who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
Alternate/Complementary Prayer: O Key of David O Royal Power of Israel Controlling at your will, the gates of heaven Come, break down the prison walls of death For those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.
Advent Week Four
Directions: Light the first purple candle and repeat first week's prayer. Light the second purple candle and repeat second week's prayer. Light the rose candle and repeat third week's prayer. Light the fourth purple candle.
Prayer: Pour forth thy power, O Lord, and come: Assist us by that mighty power, so that by thy grace and merciful kindness we may swiftly receive the salvation that our sins impede: Who livest and reignest with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Alternate/Complementary Prayer: O Wisdom, Holy Word of God You govern all things with your strong, yet tender care Come and show your people the way to salvation.
Christmas Day and Christmastide
Directions for Five-Candle Wreaths: Light all four preceding candles and repeat each week's prayer while lighting them. Light the center white candle.
Directions for 4-Candle Wreaths: Replace all Advent candles with white candles and light them.
Prayer: God of love, Father of all, the darkness that covered the earth has given way to the bright dawn of your Word made flesh. Make us a people of this light. Make us faithful to your Word that we may bring your life to the waiting world. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen. (The Roman Missal)
Alternate/Complementary Prayer: Let the just rejoice, for their justifier is born. Let the sick and infirm rejoice, For their saviour is born. Let the captives rejoice, For their Redeemer is born. Let slaves rejoice, for their Master is born. Let free men rejoice, For their Liberator is born. Let All Christians rejoice, For Jesus Christ is born. (Saint Augustine of Hippo)
Compiled by David Bennett