Advent

Four Unique Advent Traditions for Your Worship Services

Four Unique Advent Traditions for Your Worship Services

The first Sunday in Advent is only seven weeks away!

Advent is a journey; that season of waiting and preparation leading up to Christmas. It’s the beginning of a new liturgical year, a time when we gather in darkness and wait for the Light of the World to come again. 

We re-read the ancient prophecies, we hold on to hope, we remind ourselves what it means to trust in God’s promises and receive God’s peace. We celebrate the gift of joy to the world and the light God shines into the dark places.

Prayers for Choirs: No. 12

Prayers for Choirs: No. 12

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” - John 1:5 Have you ever noticed how much light comes from one tiny candle? No matter how dark the room may be, the soft glow of one small flame cannot be overcome.

It is radiant and bright and hopeful—a reminder of God’s promise to us and God’s presence with us. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:8)

Eight Festive Advent Calendars

Eight Festive Advent Calendars

Advent is just a few short weeks away (it begins the Sunday after Thanksgiving this year). It's a season of hope, patience, expectation, waiting. The people were walking in darkness. They knew the Light would come one day, but they didn't know when. Instead, they walked in faith, believing that redemption was near.

Every year, we remember (in some small way) the waiting - the walking-by-faith part of the story. This is why I love Advent calendars - a tangible way to count the days, to journey through Advent with a spirit of hope and expectation.

When I was growing up, we had a large felt Advent calendar shaped like a tree with a small ornament for each day. We also had an array of paper calendars with doors to open and Scripture verses to read (some even had chocolate inside!). For the past few years, SD and I have displayed this lovely Scripture card Advent calendar by Oh My Deer (included in the list below).

5 Ideas for Creating Meaningful Advent Services

5 Ideas for Creating Meaningful Advent Services

Advent is a time of waiting. Preparation. Anticipation. Expectancy. Hope. We retell the story we all know by heart. We reread the prophecies and remember the journey - the years of waiting, the sense of unknown.

We light candles and sing ancient songs and dwell in the moments of darkness before the season of light, holding on to hope and promises yet to be fulfilled.

This is the essence of the Advent season, for me.

How can we convey this in worship? How can we make this season more meaningful? How can we capture the quietness, the sense of wonder, the shimmering light in the midst of darkness in our Advent services? 

Here are 5 ideas: 

2016 Reading Session Picks: Adult Choir

2016 Reading Session Picks: Adult Choir

It's always a joy to return to the beautiful Lake Junaluska, nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains of Western NC.

I've been attending Music and Worship Arts Week off and on since high school and I have so many memories of chilly morning walks to worship in Stuart Auditorium, evening concerts by the Junaluska Singers, simply suppers at the Allgood House, and stopping to admire the roses along the Rose Walk.

In case you haven't been, the week-long conference includes daily morning worship, several performance tracks for people of all ages and abilities (choir, handbells, dance, instrumental ensembles, and drama), a variety of helpful seminars and reading sessions, and evening concerts.

Like last year, I thought I'd share my reading session picks. Here are my favorite new adult choir anthems - hot off the press!

Fifteen Church Choir Anthems for Advent

Fifteen Church Choir Anthems for Advent

'Tis the season to be jolly as you plan music for Advent! Am I right?!

As all church musicians know, it's never too early to be thinking about Christmas, so today, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite anthems for the Advent season. 

I've mentioned a few of these in previous posts (here, here, here, and here), but I thought it might be helpful to compile everything in one post for easy reference!

15 Favorite Anthems for Advent

The Yearning (Courtney)
Exquisite text and beautiful writing - a lovely expression of hope

Of the Father's Love Begotten (arr. Rouse)
A gorgeous setting of one of my favorite Advent hymns (with a great cello part!). On the more challenging side, but still more than accessible for small church choirs.