Advent Book, 2011 Edition

I’ve updated the Advent song book from last year.  The most notable change is the addition of Daniel Henderson’s “Hymn for a Household” to the tune of Old Hundredth.

You can download it here: The Lord is Near – 2011 Edition

This is the text of the introduction:

The past decades have seen increased interest among non-liturgical Christians in traditional forms of Christian faith and practice.  Ancient customs that were once viewed with skepticism as dead rituals, or with outright hostility as poisonous “traditions of men,” are reappearing in a new light, as powerful aids to spiritual growth and steadying defenses against the onslaught of a secular anti-culture.

This is particularly true for the ancient custom of Advent.  While the surrounding world prepares for a singular Christmas Day with relentless advertising, shopping and sales, the observance of Advent reminds Christians to watch with prayer, alms-giving, and fasting for the imminent arrival of their Lord.  Among the orgies of consumer avarice and gluttony personified in a secular Santa Claus, Christians are once again remembering the real Saint Nicholas and his generosity to the poor.  Finally, the observance of Advent reminds us that Christmas Day is not the end, but the beginning of the Christmas season.

To many, fasting and repentance during “the most wonderful time of the year” will appear out-of-sync, even “Scrooge-like.”  Yet the Apostle Paul, distilling the gospel to a mere sentence, declared, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (I Cor. 2:2, ESV) Within this verse is contained the seeds for both Christmas and Easter, for the special observances of the incarnation as well as the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord.  Both call us to repentance and watchfulness, and both benefit from a time of careful and serious introspection.

This booklet of songs and prayers was compiled to aid families and small groups in observing the important season of Advent.  The songs may be used however desired, but the suggested use for families is one per day for a weekly cycle.  (This 2011 edition adds Lord Christ, Beneath Thy Starry Dome, a song well suited for family use.)  The collects from the BCP may be used each night of the designated week, particularly when lighting candles on an Advent wreath.  The other prayers may be used as desired.  There are twenty-eight Advent scripture readings, enough for one per day on any year.  They need not be read in the order they are listed.  There are thirteen Christmas scriptures, one for Christmas eve and each of the twelve days of Christmas thereafter.  These are partially ordered to give a sense of the chronology of the biblical story.

It is my hope that you will find this a helpful resource in “redeeming the time” from the continual assaults of a society that would gladly wish us to forget our Lord among the bustle of a busy holiday season.  May God bless you and your family this Advent.