Another church year starts today on the First Sunday in Advent, four Sundays before Christmas Day.
Liturgical churches have a wealth of hymnody new and old to get them through this season without resorting to the carols that are already creeping into our secular lives. Each year other churches decide to observe Advent, a quiet time of expectation, perhaps for the first time. Some worship planners find that it's hard to resist Christmas music in early December, but others stand firm.
That said, today isn't necessarily so quiet. The prescribed scripture lessons for the day in some places talk about the second coming of Jesus rather than the first - triumphalism over the mystery of the Incarnation. Advent can encompass many themes.
O’er the distant mountains breaking
Comes the redd'ning dawn of day;
Rise, my soul, from sleep awaking,
Rise, and sing, and watch, and pray;
’Tis the Savior, Jesus Christ,
On thy bright returning way.
Nearer is my soul’s salvation,
Spent the night, the day at hand;
Here upon my earthly station,
Watching for thee, till I stand,
O my Savior, O my Hope,
In thy bright, thy promised land.
With my lamp well trimmed and burning,
Swift to hear and slow to roam,
Watching for thy glad returning
To restore me to my home.
Come, my Savior, come, my Joy,
Thou hast promised, quickly come!
John Samuel Bewley Monsell, 1863; alt.
Tune: STöRL (18.104.22.168.7.7.)
Johann G. C. Störl, 1774
More Hymns for the First Sunday in Advent:
Eight (Liturgical) Years Ago: Lo! he comes with clouds descending
Seven (Liturgical) Years Ago: Jesus came, adored by angels
Six (Liturgical) Years Ago: Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates
Five (Liturgical) Years Ago: The King shall come when morning dawns
Four (Liturgical) Years Ago: Once he came in blessing
Two (Liturgical) Years Ago: Hosanna! now through Advent
One (Liturgical) Year Ago: O for a faith in boundless love