Saturday, December 16, 2017

What I'm Listening to This Advent

If you haven't guessed already, I love observing Advent. This year has been a really good, really peaceful, and just...Adventy kind of Advent. Somehow, I've managed to stick with my Advent plan better than I thought I would (no chocolate during the weekdays and my daily Advent devotional, while I haven't visited a nursing home yet, I'll do so this week), and while I'm excited for the upcoming season of Christmas, I'm also just loving this season of silence and waiting.

As part of my Advent observance, I try to hold off on Christmas music until Christmas actually arrives. Instead, I like to dive into music that is more suited to Advent. There is some gorgeous Advent music out there (as well as some other secular music that is somewhat appropriate to this season), and if we don't take an opportunity to listen to it, then we are missing out. Music for Advent goes far beyond "O Come O Come Emmanuel," so let's take a look at some of my favorite tunes that I've been rocking out to lately.

1. Bach's Advent Cantatas.
This music is just gorgeous. I mean, it's Bach, so how could it not be? I don't speak German, so I can't understand the words when I hear them, but many websites offer translations of his Advent cantatas, and the wording of these is beautiful. For example, from BWV 61 - "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland" I:
The Savior has comehas taken our poor flesh and bloodupon Himselfand claims us as blood-brothers.
These are harder to dance to if you want something bouncy (believe me, I've tried), but they are lovely and help to create a peaceful atmosphere as I clean or sit near the lit Advent wreath. I have found Bach's Advent cantatas available on both Spotify and Youtube. 

2. Advent at Ephesus, by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles.
My life was changed when I found out about this album. These religious sisters have incredible voices, and their music is just beautiful and reflective. I particularly love their rendition of "O Come Divine Messiah." You can purchase the album here, and their music is also available on Spotify.

3. Disney Music
As awesome as quiet, reflective music is, it's really hard to dance to on those occasions when I just want to jump up and spin around the living room. But, Disney music is perfect for impromptu dance parties! Check out this post on Disney music that's fairly appropriate for Advent dance parties. 

4. Musical Numbers
Even though it's a secular song, "Once Upon a December," from Anastasia, is fitting for the wintery days of Advent where we are filled with longing and hope (I've also been listening to the soundtrack from Dear Evan Hanson, but that's not really Advent music, it's just really popular right now). I would love to find musical numbers that jive with Advent themes, but haven't been able to get around to it this year-maybe that'll be a mission for another year!

I'd like to end with a quote from A Monastery Journey to Christmas, by Brother Victor-Antoine D'Avila-Latourrette:
"I understand people's need for music, particularly during these somber, cold days. It somehow softens the mood and harshness of the weather for them. But I don't think this basic human need is placated by surrounding oneself with Christmas music so early in the season. The tunes create the false impression it is already Christmas when in fact is still is a distance away...If we are serious about our own personal Advent journey, we must make the effort to leave cheap entertainment aside and isntead search for music in consonance with the spirit of Advent." 
Believe me, once Christmas hits, my home will be filled with all sorts of Christmas songs for the whole season, but until then, I am really soaking up the depth and beauty of Advent music. I hope you all have a blessed and epic beginning of the third week of Advent!


  1. yes, I love Bach's Advent cantatas! I particularly love the dialogues between Christ and the soul. those are so moving.

    I wonder if one of the reasons that people tend to start Christmas music earlier is because they don't know of many other options. it is true that in a lot of parishes it's kind of limited to the "O Come O Come Emmanuel." as beautiful and rich as that is, there are so many others too! even just starting with the propers for each of the Sundays of Advent you end up with a lot of gorgeous seasonal chant, and that leads into the polyphonic versions adapted from those chants that masters such as Palestrina, Byrd, and Tallis composed. ♥

  2. Ooh, I love anything Bach so I'll have to check out the Advent cantatas!

    Also-- LOVE Anastasia and that song!

  3. I have been playing Advent at Ephesus in my car and am enjoying it! O Come Divine Messiah is my favorite on there. I looooove upbeat dance-worthy music, but definitely am liking a quieter Advent repertoire :-) Will need to make some playlists before next year!