Loading
December 05, 2013
Beyond 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel'
By Rebecca Ryskind Teti *

By Rebecca Ryskind Teti *

One of the nicest features of Advent and Christmas is that the unique carols of these seasons are a wonderful aid to meditation. You can be on your morning commute or out for a jog or pulling a pie out of the oven and, with music on in the background, you find yourself singing along and suddenly you’re swept into a moment of grace by the combination of profound lyric and gorgeous melody.

I’m not sure why it is, but there is something about folk melody – by which I mean the melodies each culture passes on along with its legends and traditional foods as opposed to the 1960s musical movement—that is particularly beautiful and moving, and most Advent and Christmas songs are set to these old tunes.

My mom trained to sing professionally and has a lovely clear-as-a-bell soprano. She used to give an annual holiday concert at the church I grew up in and spend literally the whole year gathering the most glorious (or sometimes humorous) carols from all over the globe. So us kids had the benefit of a wide repertoire of Christmas music which was fun – because music is fun—and a blessing because the religious imagery and melodies from every land are so rich.

When I converted to Catholicism, I began to have a similar interest in Advent carols and to “collect” them as an aid to entering into the Church’s joyful waiting. I try to learn a new one each Advent season. Here are some favorites, just in case you would like to branch out beyond O Come, O Come Emmanuel….which is wonderful, but I get tired of it when we have to hear it all Advent long. (There, I said it.)  Besides, since that song is just the "O" antiphons of the December 17-23 liturgy put to music, it's nice, liturgically speaking, to save it for late in Advent.

Here are several of my favorites with descriptions, and a list of a few others for good measure. My links are to whatever pops up easily on an internet search just so you can learn them – they aren’t necessarily favorite performances. Once you know what you like you can look for them in a style that suits your fancy: in solo or choral form, or twinkly piano music. They are all lovely in melody and an encouragement for the heart if you let the words sink in.

O Come, Divine Messiah. A sweet French melody with equally sweet lyrics. This recording is a little slow for my tastes – it should lilt—but the song is just charming.

People, Look East. Another French selection, this is an ancient carol that’s probably my favorite Advent carol due to the profound words by the deeply Catholic Eleanor Farjeon. She compares the coming Christ to a seed, a young bird, a coming star. The line, “even the hour when wings are frozen He for fledging time has chosen” gives me chills each time I sing it.

Gabriel's Song is based on an old Basque carol, as you can hear in the haunting refrain.

When The King Shall Come Again. This one was my obsession last Advent season --especially the third verse. What an image!

"Now the deaf shall hear the dumb sing away their weeping; blind eyes see the injured come walking, running, leaping!"

Like almost all hymns, it should not be performed at the dirge pace choirs and congregations drag them to, but more like a march. Sing those lines in triumphant march tempo and imagine that glorious day!

The King Shall Come. This vies with People Look East to be my favorite. I believe the achingly lovely melody to be Russian, but it’s the lyrics that pierce my heart – sing all the verses!

Those are five favorites. Here are a several more just to round out your selections.

The Advent of Our King

Comfort, Comfort O My People

Come, O Long Expected Jesus (choice of three tunes! Here are others!)

Creator of the Stars of Night

Hark! A Thrilling Voice is Sounding

I Sing A Maid (lovely contemporary hymn) 

Of the Father's Heart Begotten

Lift Up Your Heads, Almighty Gates

Rejoice, Rejoice Believers (I can't find the melody I know, but the lyrics are still wonderful)

On Jordan's Bank (here's another melody)

Rorate, caeli desuper

Wake, O Wake & Sleep No Longer

For a change of pace, when Advent has passed and you’re ready for Christmas music, here’s a bouncy novelty song you won’t have heard before. Joseph & Mary in a Stable & a Baby Boy. It’s just released by my cousin, Michael Cariello. Not touching like a carol, but a lot of fun!

Do you have a favorite Advent carol not listed here? Leave a comment – I would love to know it.

Rebecca Teti is a wife and mother who writes for Catholic Digest and other publications.
« Previous entry     Back to index     Next entry »
Ads by Google
(What's this?)
blog comments powered by Disqus

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Nov
27

Liturgical Calendar

November 27, 2014

Thursday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 17:11-19

Gospel
Date
11/27/14
11/25/14
11/24/14

Daily Readings


Gospel:: Lk 21: 20-28

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »

Saint
Date
11/27/14

Homily of the Day

Lk 17:11-19

Homily
Date
11/27/14
11/25/14
11/24/14
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: