Posted by: AJtheIrishLass | June 19, 2007

A Bit About Advent

selective focus of purple candle

Photo by George Becker on

Many of us are aware that some Christians celebrate a season just before Christmas called Advent. Keeping Advent often includes the lighting of a special wreath in church or at home, and churches that observe Advent don’t generally use Christmas hymns in church til Christmas Eve.

However, many people aren’t aware of the rich symbolism behind Advent and feel it’s just another tradition. Not only is Advent a centuries-old tradition of the Church, but it is also a wonderful way to prepare for Christmas. Advent can provide a time for quiet reflection in the middle of the commercial hype that surrounds the holiday season. If you’ve ever wanted to keep a traditional Christmas, Advent is a great place to start.

So, I’ve included this short article from my Episcopal FAQ’s site to explain why we celebrate Advent. (Originally titled, “Why Don’t Episcopalians use Christmas Hymns til Christmas Eve?”)

“One of the practices the Episcopal Church has retained from early Church tradition is the liturgical year. That means that the year is divided up into seasons based on events in Scripture surrounding Jesus’ life and ministry. The first season in the liturgical year is Advent.”

Advent has traditionally been a season when Christians await the celebration of Christ’s birth, which has historically been celebrated at Christmas, though the exact time Jesus was born is unknown. Regardless of when Jesus was actually born, this feast is a powerful reminder of the realities of Jesus’ Incarnation. 

Advent also symbolizes how the Church waits for Christ to come again in glory. You might notice that many of the Gospel and New Testament readings have to do with the Second Coming, while the Hebrew Scripture readings are from the Prophets, readings commonly associated with the coming of the Messiah. Some of the hymns used during Advent include:

  • O Come, O Come Emmanuel
  • Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending;
  • Sleepers, Wake, A Voice Astounds Us (Watchet Auf)
  • Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
  • On Jordan’s Bank, the Baptist’s Cry.

The season of Advent ends on Christmas Eve with the celebration of Jesus’ birth.


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