As we approach the two shortest seasons of the Liturgical Year, I’m reminded of the old saying that Good Friday belongs to the Roman Catholics, Easter belongs to the Eastern Orthodox Christians, but Advent, Christmas, and all the Holy Days dealing with the Incarnation are the domain of us Anglicans. We are militant in refusing to celebrate Christmas without thoroughly preparing ourselves though Advent. Our hymnody embraces and reinforces the dual preparation for both the celebration of the first coming of Jesus and the proclamation of his return in glory. Among the Advent favorites in our hymnal are “Hark, a thrilling voice is sounding,” “On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry,” “Prepare the way, O Zion,” ”Sleepers Wake,” “Lo! He comes with clouds descending,” and “O come, O come, Emmanuel.”
The Gloria in Excelsis (the song at the beginning of worship that begins, “Glory to God in the Highest...”) is given up for Advent but will return in our worship on Christmas Eve in the metrical form of “Angels we have heard on high.” This is appropriate since the first lines
of the Gloria in Excelsis comes directly from the angels’ mouths as they announce the birth of Jesus to the shepheards.
During Advent, we will once again sing the Schubert’s Kyrie (“Lord, have mercy upon us...”) and Sanctus (“Holy, holy, holy Lord...”) along with Mark Schweitzer’s “St. James’ Christmas Service” setting of the Agnus Dei (“O, Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world...”) to the tune “Greensleeves.” Greensleeves is the tune most are familiar with as the setting of “What Child is This?”