General Advent Songs and Hymns (Updated for 2021)

Advent Candle-lighting songs and other songs you make like to start looking at for Advent… I will keep adding as the weeks go by, so check back from time to time. There will also be songs for each week of Advent 2021 - see the panel on the right hand side (or the Coming Up in the Lectionary tab) for links which will be added as they are updated.

A specific song for blessing the Christmas Bowl
  • Online Resource An empty bowl, uplifted hands (Bob Faser) Good words for just before the start of Advent, when the Christmas Bowl is blessed, ready for contributions during the Advent season. Sung to the tune WINCHESTER NEW. Lyrics.
Specific Candle-Lighting songs
  • Online Resource Come we pray O God be with us (Shawn Whelan) Advent lyrics for candle-lighting which are most appropriate for Year B. Lyrics and free sheet music.
  • Online Resource / VU006 A candle is burning (Sandra Dean / Douglas Simper) Lovely lyrics for candle-lighting. While the lyrics can be sung to the American tune for Away in a Manger (AWAY IN A MANGER), I much prefer them to Douglas Simper's contemporary flowing, and simple melody (in his book Singing the Journey). Also, he changes the lyrics of verse 3 so it is based in a Southern Hemisphere Christmas "As rain softens summer the green grass will grow". Lyrics (Winter version). New words to old tunes.
  • Online Resource We light a candle for hope (Richard Bruxvoort-Colligan) Lovely lilting song "We light a candle for hope, and our world that's longing for hope"....etc. Youtube video. Sound sample, lyrics and purchase options (including accompaniment track if you want it!)
  • Online Resource Come let's walk the path of light (Jennie Gordon) Lovely words to the tune "Twinkle Twinkle little star" based on Isaiah 2:5; would be suitable for candle-lighting any year, and great for congregations with small children. Lyrics. New words to old tunes.
  • SP&P088 The Universe is bending (Jeremy McLeod) While not specifically an Advent candle lighting song, I think this could work for such prayers, as it is simple to change just one word every week. Lyrics, sheet music
  • Online Resource Shine a candle (Lucy Graham) A simple and quite lovely song that could be sung each week of Advent. Free sheet music and notes for bringing the song to life.  
  • Online Resource Kindle a flame within our hearts (Philip Garside) A beautiful gentle song, with lyrics that can be altered for each week of Advent. Sheet music and lyrics.
  • Iona (M&G) / CH359 / MV033 / ZSS54 / StJ / GtG127 / ELW253 / GA293 / SFFS 2085 / G(II)276 / GC370 / GC(II)364 / G(3)429 / CP368 / W&R402 He came down that we may have love / Jesus came bringing us hope (Traditional Cameroon) The translation in "More Voices" (Jesus came bringing...) seems particularly appropriate for Advent and it could easily work as an Advent Candle lighting song. Just sing hope, love, peace or joy, depending on the week. Would be more exciting and energetic with some African drums, rather than a quiet reflective candle lighting song. Lyrics and sound samples. Good for kids.
  • GA279 / A&M56 / SP019 Word of Justice / Advent Litany (Bernadette Farrell) A good call and response for Advent, with many many verses. Only use a few each week. The cantor says one line, then the congregation response "Allelulia!", the cantor again, then "Maranatha! Sound sample.
  • Online Resource Light a candle bright and tall (David Wood) Excellent words to the tune for "As with Gladness"; a new verse for each week and one for Christmas day. I'm thinking we might sing this at home when we light our candles! Lyrics and free sheet music.  Good for older kids.
  • Online Resource In twilight's calm and gentle space / Season of Gifts (Helen Wiltshire) Based on the themes of GIFT: Grace Illumination Faith Transformation. Free book download.
  • CH284 / StS015 Hope is a candle once lit by the prophets (Richard Leach) Excellent words for candle lighting, including a verse for each candle and one for Christmas Day. Sung to a nice Scottish folk tune (GALLOWAY TAM). Sheet music. Lyrics
  • MV221 I am walking a path of peace (Janet Tissandier) A simple song for a benediction or an Advent Candle Song; words can be altered to paths of love, grace, hope, joy etc. Obligato from Alan Baer. Good for kids.
  • GtG467 / STB058 Give Us Light / Jyothi dho Prabhu (Charles Vas) This song in Hindi or English is simple and repetitive and could be sung in either language (with a little teaching time). You could sing all 5 verses or just a few. It might also work during Advent as a candle lighting song, although you will need to consult with a Hindi speaker to change the lyrics. Sound sample.
  • MV220 Hope shines as the solitary star (Catherine Maclean) A nice song seeking personal growth and connection that reflects the love of Christ. It will need to be taught, but once taught it's easily sung. Lyrics
  • Online Resource Be still and know (adapted) (Richard Schwedes) An adaptation of the old familiar tune (ATN9) with a verse for each week. Lyrics sheet New words to old tunes.
  • GA272 Maranatha Maranatha Come Lord Jesus Come (Jane Wood) A good, simple Advent chant with some nice verses and prayers to go with each week. 
  • VU007 / HPP109 / W&R165 / Cha132 Hope is a star that shines in the night / When God is a child (Brian Wren) A candle lighting song with a chorus sung each week "When God is a child there's joy in our song. The last shall be first and the weak shall be strong, and none shall be afraid". Lyrics.
  • GC(II)326 Lead Us to Your Light (Carol Browning) Good advent song. You could sing one verse each week, concluding with the final verse on Christmas day. Youtube.
  • Online Resource:  Prepare the way of the Lord (Jeffrey Lowery) An upbeat song, good for kids and teenagers, I think. The verses are kind of wordy, but they're good words. The verses follow the traditional advent themes of peace, hope, joy and love, so you could also sing it every Sunday of Advent. Youtube.
  • Online resource The Advent candle shines with hope (Jay Padgett) New words for each week of Advent to a nice traditional hymn tune (MARYTON). This would go very easily in most congregations. Best sung fairly slowly. New words to old tunes. Free sheet music.
  • Online Resource Hope is a light (Daniel Damon) A simple and quite nice Advent candle lighting song. Free sheet music.
  • Protest and Praise / Online Resource In our deepest grief / We wait for you (David Bjorlin / Randall Sensmeier) A beautiful song of waiting, even in sorrow and fear; not so easy to sing - I would use a soloist. Songbook for purchase. Sound sample (I prefer it to be a little more tentative than this).
  • VU599 Living Christ bring us love (Daniel Damon) A very simple song. Could be used as a Candle-lighting song during Advent. Lyrics
  •  Online Resource In this time of waiting (David MacGregor) A very new song for Advent, with particular focus on the hope, joy, peace, and love to be found in Jesus. Would be very simple to sing. Lyrics. Sheet music. Backing track.
Anytime in Advent songs (some could also be used for candle-lighting, or sung each week as a theme song)
  • BUC Resource Flame of love come Holy Spirit (Julie Perrin, Helen Burnham / Julia Potter) This song is really beautiful, but not available online yet. I will get back to this at some stage. 
  • Recorded Music People Get Ready (Curtis Mayfield) I always think of this song during Advent. It would be great to have your musicians play this. Sound sample.
  • Online Resource Come Christmas Child (Shirley Murray) A wonderful new song celebrating that Christ will come amid the pain and hurt that exists in the world. The tune is not easy - it will need to be taught, but the lyrics will make it worth the time! Lyrics and sheet music.
  • Online Resource Drawing Nearer (Christopher Grundy) An excellent contemporary song about the lack of peace within the world and within our souls, and the desire for God to "steal our hearts - like a baby". It's great. Free sheet music. Sound sample (youtube). I would use this first by a soloist, and invite the congregation to join in as they get the hang of it.
  • Online Resource Christ comes again (Barbara Hamm) Very easy to sing, and good lyrics about where Christ can be found in our everyday lives. Lyrics and sheet music
  • Online Resource Hey Mary! (Sam & Malcolm Gordon) A lovely children's song about the annunciation. It captures the surprise and the universality of God's arrival to each of us. Youtube and sheet musicGood for kids. 
  • Music by Heart 59 Come light of lights (Ruth Cunningham) A lovely two-part chant that would be a nice meditative song for any week of Advent: "Come light of lights into my heart. Come wisdom of spirit into my heart". It can be sung quite slowly and meditatively, or more energetically and joyfully, depending on your context; it can also be split into a round! Two videos: A quick version and a slow versionSound sample. Good for kids.
  • CH256 / VU424 / GtG765 / StF411 May the God of hope go with us every day (Alvin Schutmaat) Simple joyful song with a focus on working for peace, working with the "God of peace" who fills our lives with "love and joy and peace"; I would sing just the first verse and chorus. A good song for the end of the service; be careful it doesn't get too pedestrian or childish - think of traditional Argentinian music, which is what it is. Lyrics. Good for kids.
  • MV019 Maranatha (Louise Skibsted) This simple chant, simply “Maranatha, Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus, come” might work well if you are having a more meditative approach to the Advent season. We use this often during Advent at Brunswick.  A little sample of the sheet music, and the lyrics in both English and French
  • NCH121 / UMH210 / VU005 / WoV629 / ELW266 / W&R163 / Cha139 All earth is waiting / All earth is hopeful / Toda la tierra espera al Salvador (Alberto Taule) Fun Catalonian tune, good words, although the English translations vary between sources. Could be good for kids. A nice recording from Chile in Spanish. Slow and majestic organ sample and English lyrics. I particularly like this translation.
  • MV028 / StJ / FFS25 / GC(II)507 / G(3)587 God of the Bible / Fresh as the morning (Shirley Murray) Good words. I particularly like the tune by Alonso, as the chorus is really very wonderful. This is a song worth learning for Advent, but can be sung all through the year. I think this song would be a really good "fit" for our congregation. Sound sample. Lyrics.
  • AoVK-52 O Emmanuel, come into our hearts (Michael Mangan) with 3 verses. In 2008 we sang just the chorus on Advent 1, then added one verse for each week. Verse 1 “We your people are waiting for you..” Verse 2 “ We, your people are longing for you”. Verse 3 “ We your people are ready for you”. Could use a cantor for the verse and congregation join in the chorus. Would be great with good Latin or African percussion. We sang this in 2013 during Advent, and it worked well. Lyrics & sound sample. Good for kids.
  • CoC30 Look toward Christmas! (Shirley Murray) I particularly like tune (i); very joyous! A fun song looking forward to Christmas. I don’t know if it would last the distance of singing it every week before Christmas. Quite good for kids. I like the image of the angels flexing their wings! Sheet music and lyrics. 
  • Taize / CH276 / VU22 / GtG090 / ELW262 / GtG090 / GA283 / G(II)256 / GC332 / GC(II)340 / G(3)406 / CP094 / W&R166 / PfAS037B / SP28 / URW396 / Lau088 Wait for the Lord (Jacques Berthier) Wait for the Lord whose day is near, wait for the lord, keep watch, take heart. A lovely simple Taize chant. Sheet music, translations and sound samples.
  • StF045 Earth's creator everyday God (Bernadette Farrell) A responsive call and response chant that celebrates the everyday presence of God in all things, ending each verse with "come, be with us". This would work well during an extended period of meditation in your service. You could also choose to use it throughout Advent, choosing verses as appropriate. Lyrics and sound sample
  • CH784 Come light light of God / Lumière de Dieu (Grandchamp Community) A lovely simple chant. Would be beautiful for Advent candle lighting. Simple harmonies. 
  • MV045 Hamba nathi (Zulu) This is the song we sang during Advent 2009 for the (usually silent) procession at the start of our worship service, and we wrote verses for each week. We sang it in Zulu followed by one line in English on the repeat. Week 1: You are holy, you show us the way. Week 2: Justice is coming, prepare the way. Week 3: Singing and shouting, we're walking the way. Week 4: We're walking to freedom, come join in the song. There are a lot of other translations and variations of this song. I like "Come walk with us, the journey is long". Good for kids.
  • ATFG 514 Emmanuel Carol / God of light we are waiting for you (Gael Berberick) This is probably not one to sing every week, but is definitely worth looking at as a general resource for Advent. 
  • MV011 / StS007 / GtG091 / GC(II)338 / G(3)405 Come, come Emmanuel / Advent gathering song (James Chepponis) The simple chant is quite lovely, and the cantor soars beautifully. It could be quite formal if you like. Can work as a chant without the cantor part; you could choose particular cantor verses for each week, or even make up your own, which is what we've done at Brunswick. At other times of year it can be used with the Cantor for confession. Slow sound sample. Sheet music sample.
  • Online Resource / Protest of Praise Prepare the way with quietness (David Bjorlin) Excellent words that pick up on Advent as a time of preparation. Sung to the well known tune LAND OF REST. Lyrics. Song book for purchase. New words to old tunes.  
  • Iona (HSNW) / VU019 / A&M839 / SP326 Kindle a flame to lighten the dark and take all fear away (Iona) This song would also work well as a simple candle lighting chant during Advent in the Northern Hemisphere. Sound sample.
  • GC(II)339 When the wind of winter blows (Ruth Duck) Northern Hemisphere-specific Advent song. Best if you live somewhere where it actually snows.
  • GC(II)352 / G(3)442 Gift of God O Emmanuel (Marty Haugen) A nice chant-like refrain and Cantor line. Note that this one needs a cantor. Would be excellent for Advent and then Christmas day. Many verses which can be sung, so choose the most appropriate for your congregation or write your own. Sound sample. Sheet music sample.
  • HPP216 / GtG092 While We Are Waiting Come (Claire Cloniger) A lovely simple chant of anticipatory praise.
  • GC324 / RS 492 Here in this world where darkness surrounds us / Come O Hope of your people / Advent Gathering (Rory Cooney) Excellent questioning words. Cantor and response. Simple to sing, and quite beautiful "Show us your face, O promise of dawn". It's in 7/8 so it immediately appeals to me.... Sheet music sample.
  • Online Resource An ancient story told (Leonie Percival) New words to the very familiar tune LEONI, inspired by a refugee family within the author's church community. Sheet musicNew words to old tunes.
  • Seeds of Faith Prepare the Way For Love (Richard Bruxvoort-Colligan) A good song for kids. I think it would be fun to make up additional verses for this one so it could carry through the whole of Advent. Sound sample. BUC people, I have this book. Good for kids.
  • Online Resource / Tune InDare to Dream (Elaine Loukes) A great song about having a vision for the future, being lead by the light of Bethlehem’s star. "Dare to dream of new beginnings, Paths untried, by faith supplied".  Free downloadable songbook.
  • AoVK-58 We wait in hope for the Lord (Nethaniel Ford) Simple a cappella round "We wait in hope for the Lord, God is our help and our shield. And so our hearts rejoice, for we trust in God's holy name". Good for kids. 
  • STB268 / VF033 The grain is ripe (Shirley Erena Murray) Hopeful words of harvest, sung to a familiar-ish tune. It has some tricky timing, so be clear when you lead it.
  • URW424 Come Lord Jesus (Carey Landry) An extremely simple chant that could be used in Advent. 
  • CH281 / UMH202 / VU009 / WoV626 / LBW626 / ELW248 / A&M47 / HPP83 / GtG105 / PH012 / G(II)337 / GC318 / GC(II)337 / G(3)409 / CP091 / CP(E) 35 / W&R161 / Cha142 / SP015 / VF034 People look East, the time is near (Eleanor Farjeon) Bouncy and joyful Advent song. Note that it is cold-climate Northern Hemisphere specific. 
  • Iona / VU33 Watch watch and pray (Iona) A very short Advent chant; could be used at various times during the service, maybe even during intercessions. Also has lyrics specific for Maundy Thursday. 
  • Music by Heart 63 Tar a thighearna (Ruth Cunningham) A simple and beautiful chant based on ancient Celtic words meaning "Come Lord, come thou Being". Youtube.
  • AoV2-123 / AoVK-59 Twilight then darkness (Phil Porter) A lovely Advent candle song, which could be good for Northern Hemisphere people. In the Southern Hemisphere, you could possibly use this at dinner time, if you live closer to the equator than me. Darkness comes pretty late in a Melbourne Summer.
  • AoV2-043 / ATFG520 / CoC40 / NCH538 / SFFS 2095 / GC(II)355 / G(3)449 / SP&P174 / W&R223 / ZSS63 / VF035 Star-Child (Shirley Murray) A lovely lovely carol. Very easy to sing. A big favourite! Lyrics and sample sheet music.
  • ATFG542 / CH480 Word of the Father / Come Lord Come (John Bell) A simple call and response with more verses than you need, adapt them for each week.  
Choral works
We don't usually have a choir at Brunswick, but we often pull one together at Advent. Here are a few choral ideas.  
  • Online Resource There is a yearning / The Yearning (Craig Courtney) This is quite beautiful, and will appeal to a range of congregations, as it can be interpreted quite broadly. It has arrangements both for SATB and TTBB choirs. Sheet music & sound sample.
  • Iona Lullaby Lullaby God comes tomorrow / Advent Lullaby (John Bell) Just gorgeous. This is not necessarily a choral work - it could also be sung by a (clever) congregation, or the congregation could sing one part, accompanied by a choir. Sound sample
  • Online Resource Light of the World (Laura Daigle) I quite like listening to Laura Daigle sing this, and the choir arrangement looks quite manageable. We did it a few years ago and it was great fun. Sheet music & sound sample.
Advent Blessings
  • SP&P201 Peace peace deep peace (Thomas) A very simple benediction, that could also work well as a blessing to someone who is leaving the congregation. Could be used creatively in Advent - by changing the verses each week (Peace, Love, Joy and Hope)


David Wood said...

I'd love it if you'd consider adding my new Advent hymn "Light a Candle Bright and Tall" to your Advent resources. It is already being sung in some churches throughout the US and in other countries. Thanks!

W B Jones said...

"God's Adventure" may be played one verse weekly to light each Advent Candle, from Hope, to Peace, to Joy, to Love, to Christ. (I wrote it with rolling beat of "Jerusalem, My Happy Home" in mind, but you could set to other tunes as you wish.)

Link to lyrics and pdf at
Peace and good! Rev. William B. Jones

Bronwyn Marchant said...

Do you know 'Star Child, Earth Child' by Shirley Murray? It's a lovely advent song. It's in a New Zealand hymn book called 'Carol our Christmas' available from The New Zealand Hymnbook Trust. It's in other hymnals now as well but I don't have a list. The last line of the chorus is "This year, this year, let the day arrive, when Christmas comes for everyone, everyone alive". Maybe you already know it.

Wondering Pilgrim said...

Our Worship Convenor, Rosemary Booth, just wrote Coastal Carol for Advent for a West Australian context - free for use and adaptation. It's available at

Kate said...

This year for the candle lighting, we will be singing VU34 "Come Now, O God of Peace" substituting "hope," "joy," and "love" for peace on the different weeks. It is a Korean melody (O-So-So) and very haunting to my North American ears, so fits well with a contemplative candle liturgy.

Also - When the Wind of Winter Blows is also found in More Voices - MV7. I love this song, but I don't know if we have enough singers in the congregation to learn it in time for Advent this year.

Aakash said...
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Jennie Gordon said...

hi folks - here's a new candle lighting song that even your young ones could sing and play along to! - to the tune of Twinkle, twinkle...

Anonymous said...

The Day is Near (For Words and Deeds Enshrined in Granite Tombs) by Huub Oosterhuis, translated by Tony Barr, revised b Tom Conry, music by Bernard Huijbers; Gather Comprehensive #798

Bravo Smith said...
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Jack Harry said...
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Sue DB said...

For candle-lighting this year, we are using One Candle Is Lit, found in the Chalice Hymnal. The tune is Away in a Manger (Kirkpatrick), and there is a verse for each week.

Jeff Lowery said...

"Prepare The Way"is a song by David D.M. King and Jeff Lowery. It has the potential to be used weekly for the 4 Sundays of Advent, adding a new verse each week for the themes of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. Covered under CCLI and a lead sheet available. Here is a link to a lyric video.