Advent is my favourite season of the church’s year (yes, better even than Christmas though only just ahead of Easter). This is largely because of the music which has been my constant companion since I became a chorister eighty years ago. I think for example of the haunting setting of Sleepers Awake by J S Bach.
Then there are the traditional Advent hymns with their eager expectation, their looking forward to Christmas with words like ‘Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free’. Others tell of Jesus’s cousin John’s part in preparing the way for Christ such as ‘On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry announces that the Lord is nigh’.
Two of the longer ones are Charles Wesley’s ‘Lo, he comes with clouds descending’, which envisions a second coming of Christ to reign as the true Messiah.
The other is my favourite of all, the one which uses every verse as a prayer to God to come to our aid. Each verse refers to one of the many titles of God, such as the Rod of Jesse, the Dayspring, the Key of David, the Lord of Might. On our lips this Advent will be the words of its chorus:
‘Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel’
– Very Revd David Shearlock, partner priest