Music for Advent I

In the past, I’ve done the 12 days of Christmas, starting them, in snotty pedantic fashion, on December 25th, which is where they begin in the Catholic and Anglican liturgical calendar.  But since Mormons tend to frontload our musical celebration, I thought I’d try some Advent music earlier in the season.  Today is the first Sunday of Advent–for some possibilities for celebrating, see Eric Huntsman’s excellent post at T&S.

I thought I’d start with some Marian devotion, since we don’t get to do that much at church ;)  And also because I know of no fuller instantiation of longing and active waiting than the last month of pregnancy.


  1. Latter-day Guy says:

    I love these posts! Thanks particularly for including that last one––Britten, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

  2. I adore Britten, too. Kristine, thanks for doing these earlier this year. This is going to add greatly to my anticipation of the season.

  3. I am waiting for payday to get the Weezer Chriistmas Album.

  4. Wow — the Utah Chamber Artists continue to impress. Thanks for these.

  5. I thought I’d start with some Marian devotion, since we don’t get to do that much at church ;)

    I’m thinking about this and wondering if there are different ways we could look at this. The Church was pretty geographically centered at the time when the hymnbook was created. It seems nigh unto impossible to create a Marian hymnbook now, and I actually have a hard time thinking that people would be satisfied with the Church choosing just a few Marian arrangements with the almost limitless library of songs that exists the world over.

    Ironically, in some ways, the correlation model seems to me to actually decentralize a lot of the music and puts a lot on local choir directors to prayerfully choose how the ward and stake choirs can gather to perform Marian selections in their wards and stakes in ways that will be meaningful in those wards and stakes.

    I also think that with a correlated hymnbook has come an increasing reach of the Church as a musical organization. Converts from other faiths may not bring “their own” songs, etc. but the Church as a whole does (and performs!) so much via special musical numbers and MoTab and other choirs — choirs to which we are invited to participate and listen and that seem to me to mirror what Marian composers sought in the first place (singing, music, etc.). And these choirs still give us an opportunity to do hear much good music. We can sing in ward choirs that perform Marian arrangements to those in need of Marian arrangements. We can participate in stake choirs. My ward choir has helped at the DI sort center that sends one-ton blocks of music CDs to needy people all over the world. Missionaries can sing part-time in a variety of choirs that include various musical arrangements. I’m consistently amazed at what the Church does worldwide as a choir and the many ways we can get involved.

    I dunno. I just don’t see correlation as being as negative as some seem to. I think in some ways we have the best of both worlds — united, worldwide musical arrangements on one hand and localized, inspired efforts tailored to community choral preferences under the direction of local choir directors on the other.

  6. Researcher says:

    Thanks for these posts. My family and I (and the missionaries and some neighbors) celebrated First Advent last night. I have enjoyed listening to your selections, although ours were rather less highbrow, since we sang Christmas songs out of the hymnbook so that everyone could follow along. And we lit the first candle and ate pie and drank eggnog, but of course that was secondary to the music. :)

  7. Scott! F! T! W!

  8. Latter-day Guy says:

    Very good points, Scott. I do hope I’ll live to see a new edition of the LDS Hymnal though. It would be nice to have some (okay, a bunch) of the current selections jettisoned––for instance, some of the “Sunday School” songs (or anything containing the word “sunshine”). This would free up room for new hymns––maybe even some about Mary, or Eve!––and increase the likelihood that people would explore some of the underused gems that are already in there. (Case in point: I have never heard #126 sung in church. Ever.)

    Also, as the Church already publishes different hymnals for different languages, it would be great to see some of those foreign language pieces make their way into the standard hymnal (preferably with the option of either the original text, or a decent, singable translation). Including a section of regional selections could go a long way toward teaching that the Church is really a global faith, not just an American religion with outsourced congregations.

  9. Yeah, but L-d G, would you _really_ want to hear your average congregation do that chromatic descent in the 3rd line? Yikes!

  10. Latter-day Guy says:

    What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, Kristine. :)

  11. Thanks for posting this (and the rest in the series).

    I remember when I was 11 or so, listening very closely (and over and over) to a Christmas album by Andy Williams. “Ave Maria” was on the album (twice if I remember right). I asked my mom what language he was signing. Latin–which I probably took to mean Italian. I then told mom that I knew it was about Christmas, even though I didn’t understand the language. How so? I could hear him repeating “Santa”. It took awhile before I understood why mom was laughing.

  12. SINGing not signing (sorry). Only goes to show that I still work a little slow.

  13. L-d Guy wants to see the congregation kill themselves.

  14. The problem with the current hymnbook isn’t the texts – it’s the awkward, unpleasant, and at times near-impossible-to-sing 19th Century Technical melodies that have been imposed on them.

    Sacrament meeting could be made much more of an uplifting experience if the tunes were as beautiful as those in Come Thou Fount, If You Could High To Kolob (the Ralph Vaughn Williams version), A Child’s Prayer, etc.

    A year ago I attended a Catholic mass and was knocked over at how beautiful and spiritual (and yes, reverent!) the melodies were on every hymn sung that day.

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