Advent, Anglican, hymns, Musical Culture
Comments 35

Advent Hymns & Carols (One Per Day)

Six years ago, I was about to begin my first journey through the church year. It was a bit intimidating, because while I was an Anglican newbie, I was also also the parish music director and administrator (our background made this slightly less crazy — slightly). So, I was busy planning Advent hymnsings for our congregation — mostly because I needed to learn the hymns myself.

But, despite being in over my head, it was such a joy to get to immerse myself in the great tradition of Advent hymnody. I think one of the most simple, yet powerful ways to keep Advent is to save up the traditional Christmas music for the twelve days. But, to do that, you really need Advent music to fill the gap– music that immerses you in the waiting, longing, and mystery of the season. These hymns have become some of my favorites of all the year.

Most (but not all) of these hymns can be found in the standard hymnals (1940 or 1982). Because I’m not a complete stickler, I also decided to include some carols that straddle the line between Advent and Christmas. If you’re wondering what makes a carol different than a hymn, a carol is a seasonal folk song (and like your typical folk song, may have some strange rootsy elements). I’m including a few because, well, I love them. I love learning new-to-me folk songs; their homeliness makes me happy. Some of these, like Let All Who Are to Mirth Inclined, may indeed count as a Christmas carol. But, I will defend my inclusion of it and the few other little-known carols in this list with the following very technical assessment: they just feel Advent-y to me.

Please let me know what hymns or carols you think I should have included! I’m considering this post the first draft of a work in progress, to be refined each year (and I’ve been resisting letting perfection be the enemy of the good — I’m sure there are typos and wrong lyrics about. Please let me know when you see them. And I did struggle to find good Youtube representations of some of these hymns). This site, Hymns and Carols of Christmas, has been an amazing resource in these past years.

I’ve tried to arrange the hymns according to the general vicinity of when we sing them in our church (i.e. Lo, How a Rose on Rose Sunday, O Come, O Come Emmanuel beginning around the O Antiphons, etc.) Around Christmas Eve, I’ll publish another post with hymns and carols through Christmas and Epiphany.

December 2: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

December 3: Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates

December 4: Creator of the Stars of Night

December 5: Wake, Awake For Night is Flying

December 6: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

December 7: Savior of the Nations, Come

December 8: Jesus Christ the Apple Tree: Adam Lay Ybounden

December 9: People, Look East

December 10: Prepare the Way, O Zion

December 11: Down in Yon Forest

December 12: O Savior Rend the Heavens Wide: Hark, The Voice Eternal 

December 13: Comfort, Comfort Ye My People

December 14: Hark, A Thrilling Voice is Sounding

December 15: On Jordan’s Bank

December 16: Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming

December 17:  O Come, O Come Emmanuel

December 18: The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns

December 19: I Sing of a Maiden: The Seven Joys of Mary

December 20: Hills of the North, Rejoice

December 21: O Come, Divine Messiah

December 22: The Truth Sent From Above :  Let All Who Are to Mirth Inclined

December 23: Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending

December 24: The Darkest Midnight in December

For those of you who have been listening daily, if you’d like to continue, here is my list of Christmas Hymns and Carols.

Finally, here is a link to the Youtube Playlist: Advent Hymns and Carols


This entry was posted in: Advent, Anglican, hymns, Musical Culture


Wife of Jon. Mother of two little girls (three in March, God willing). Music director at Christ the King Anglican Church. If I have any time by myself, I'll probably spend it reading and writing...


  1. Wonderful list! Thanks for organizing them so nicely within the season like this. I will reference this list and listen to one a day with my girls over breakfast! Daddy is a church music director in our family so we have no shortage of excellent Advent music in our library to draw from, but this organized list is just fabulous. Thank you for sharing!


  2. Sarah says

    Thank you so much for this! What a rich treasure. I was wondering, though, if you’re aware that the recording for Dec. 3 does not match the printed verses. I’m planning to print out the verses and music and make an advent hymn book we can use from year to year. My young pianists can sight read a bit, so this will be yet another invitation for them to pray twice!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for finding that! I’m sure there are numerous errors like that around this post, so if you find anymore, please let me know. Also, what a lovely idea!


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  5. Margaret says

    If anyone has Spotify, there is a nice playlist called “Advent with Sacred Ordinary Days” that is beautiful. I am a fellow Anglican, and just discovered you from LMLD- excited to check out the rest of your musings!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Margaret! Thanks for the playlist recommendation. I love LMLD — it’s pretty much my favorite blog on the internet. Hope you enjoy our site!


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  7. I want to tell you how much we are enjoying this list. My 16 yo daughter and I are doing Rooted in Hope by Elizabeth Foss together and we light our candle and listen to the hymn of the day. It brings such calm to my soul. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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  9. Salome Ellen Thomas says

    May I suggest for a future list “Watchman, Tell Us of the Night?” Lyrics by John Bowring, sung to either St. George’s Windsor or Aberystwyth.


    • I also love this hymn; we sing it with Aberystwyth. Until this year, we’ve also sang it as an Advent hymn. But, in our new hymnal (the REC’s Book of Common Praise), it’s included under Epiphany. And my priest and I decided that made sense to us, so I was going to include that in my next post for Christmas and Epiphany. Thank you for the suggestion!


  10. Ellen Minnick Thomas says

    I can see that. I guess at my age it will remain Advent to me…. ;-D
    I also want to thank you for including O Savior Rend the Heavens Wide. It sent me down an amazing rabbit hole of memory, to when my high school choir sang the original Brahms setting, translated as O Savior Throw the Heavens Wide. (YouTube versions available.) After 50 years, all the words came back! And I can pick out the altos in the videos, because of when their mouths move. It has been a blessing to me!!


  11. Ellen Minnick Thomas says

    Both of these are me: Salome Ellen Minnick Thomas. For some reason it wouldn’t let me post from WordPress.


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