Advent Carol Service

St Mary’s 5pm Advent Sunday 3rd December

On Advent Sunday this year we are re-introducing an Advent Carol Service to which all are invited.  If you have never been to such a service before, please be aware that we will not be singing Christmas Carols, but rather carols and hymns interspersed with Bible readings and poems based on the theme of hope and expectation in Advent.

Advent, leading up to Christmas, like Lent leading up to Good Friday and Easter is a season of reflection. As in Lent, priests’ robes and altar hangings are predominantly purple, the colour of quiet reflection. Traditionally the main reflective themes of the season have been the challenging ones of death, judgement, heaven and hell, all undergirded by the hope and expectation we share through the love of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The pattern of the traditional Advent Carol Service marks out the season’s growing anticipation, both of the first coming of Christ at Christmas and of that Day when our prayer ‘Thy Kingdom come’ is finally and fully answered in Jesus’ return. It is based upon the The Great ‘O’s, sometimes called the Advent Antiphons, at the beginning of each verse in that great Advent hymn, ‘O come, O come, Emmanuel’. (see below)

In this service they become the framework for a rite of expectation and preparation, appropriate for Advent. The liturgy and celebration, led by our brilliant choir, and incorporating many of the great hymns of Advent, looks not to the past but to the future. Its main emphasis is not on contrition for personal shortcoming, but on the proclamation of God’s universal love and judgement.

Do come and join us for a good sing.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to you, O Israel!

O come, O Wisdom from on high,
who orders all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to your tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times once gave the law,
in cloud and majesty and awe.

O come, O Rod of Jesse’s stem,
from every foe deliver them
that trust your mighty power to save,
and give them victory o’er the grave.

O come, O Key of David, come,
and open wide our heavenly home;
make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery.

O come, O Dayspring from on high,
and cheer us by your drawing nigh;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death’s dark shadow put to flight.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of humankind;
O bid our sad divisions cease,
and be for us our Prince of Peace.