We’re halfway through the first week of Advent, and unless you carry your own personal EMP around, it’s nearly impossible to completely fast from Christmas music during December.

To help prepare for Advent and guard against Early Christmas Season (and to give you a reason to celebrate the WHOLE Twelve Days of Christmas all the way to Epiphany), we’ve made a list of Advent hymns, chants and songs to listen to during this season of waiting.

Pray for us- Mary, Mother of God- this Advent!

Included in the mix are the “O Antiphons”- a set of sung prayer responses dating back to at least the 8th Century that focus on the names of Christ. Also featured prominently on this playlist are traditional hymns and chants for Mary and the Incarnation, such as the Magnificat, the Hail Mary the Rorate Caeli and the Salve Regina.

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Overlapping with these songs for Mary are Advent carols and chants from around the world about the preparation for Christ’s birth. As Advent is traditionally a season of preparation for the Four Last things – death, judgment, heaven, and hell – we’ve also included some songs and hymns meditating on death, mortality and the Second Coming of Christ.

Listen here:

 

CNA’s Songs for Advent

Veni, veni Emmanuel Hereford Cathedral Choir – Perhaps the quintessential Advent hymn, O Come, O Come Emmanuel paraphrases the O Antiphons in a hymn dating back to 15th Century France.

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O Come O Come Emmanuel Penny and Sparrow– And a version in English from this year shows the lasting power and beauty of the song.

Je Vous Salue Marie Sandrine Kohlmann – The Hail Mary, sung a cappella in French to a traditional French tune.

Magnificat Vox Clamantis – The Magnificat, or the Canticle of Mary, is the canticle Mary responds to Elizabeth’s greetings that went on to form the Hail Mary.

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing Sufjan Stevens – No Advent playlist would be complete without this version of this 18th Century American hymn about the coming of Christ.

Alma Redemptoris Mater St. Hildegard von Bingen  The incredibly talented 12th Century Benedictine Hildegard von Bingen is not only a Doctor of the Church, theologian and scientist, but a gifted composer as well. Various parts of this Marian Hymn are typically recited at the close of night prayer throughout the Advent and Christmas season.

Antiphon I: O Sapientia Choir of Clare College, Cambridge– The first of the O Antiphons, typically said starting on December 17.

Angelus Ad Virginem Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles – A popular Medieval hymn to Mary recounting the Annunciation, Angelus Ad Virginem appears in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury tales.

O Come Divine Messiah The Barra MacNeils – This 17th Century French Advent carol focuses on waiting for Christ.

Antiphon II: O Adonai Arvo Pärt – For the Second O Antiphon, we’ve chosen this choral work by modern Estonian composer and Orthodox Christian Avrvo Pärt.

Te Lúcis Ante Términum Benjamin Britten– This traditional Latin hymn is traditionally sung at night prayer as well as during the Advent season. However this setting by British composer Benjamin Britten takes one of the oldest settings for the hymn and arranges it for the opening of Britten’s Curlew River Church Parable.

Gabriel’s Message Good Shepherd Band – A traditional Basque folk carol about the Annunciation.

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence  Mark Magnuson– While the words for this Eucharistic hymn (which will be sung later on in the playlist) date back to the 3rd Century in Greece, the hymn we recognize today is was set by English composer Ralph Vaughn Williams to the French carol “Picardy.”

Rorate, Caeli The Daughters of Mary – Another  hymn sung during the Advent Season, Rorate Caeli quotes the Book of Isaiah and its prophesy of the coming of a Savior.

Antiphons III and IV: O Radix Jesse, O Clavis David Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge

What Wondrous Love Marian Grace  An American spiritual, this song dates back to the Second Great Awakening, in the early days of the United States.

Maria Walks Amid the Thorn Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles – A 16th Century German Hymn, the text of the hymn focuses on the coming flowering of joy that will come with the Messiah, as well as repentance – another key theme of Advent.

Antiphons V and VI: O Oriens, O Rex Gentium Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus Sherri Youngward– an Advent classic of waiting and expecting.

Lo, How a Rose E’re Blooming Penny and Sparrow– Another 16th Century German hymn, the text focuses on the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies with the coming of the messiah as well as on Mary as the rose flowering.

Blessed Be That Maid Mary Dominican House of Studies  A great Marian hymn performed by the schola of student brothers at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.

Gaudete The King’s Singers– A medieval Advent Carol traditionally sung on the third Sunday of Advent- Gaudete Sunday- “Gaudete” commands the people to rejoice at the coming of the Lord.

Adam Lay Ybounden Faun- This song started off as a traveling minstrel’s song in England, retelling the story of the Fall of Adam. In the years since, it’s become a mainstay of Lessons and Carols programs.

Prepare O Bethlehem Byzantine Chant – A Byzantine chant, this song calls for the preparation for Christ’s coming.

 The Cherry Tree Carol Joan Baez– This 15th Century Carol tells the tale of Joseph and Mary’s travels to Bethlehem.

Let all mortal Flesh Keep Silence Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles – The hymn features an 18th Century translation of the original 3rd Century Greek text. While in the East, the text is still highly associated with the Eucharist (and thus Holy Week and Easter),  in the Latin Church, the focus of the translation on the Incarnation as well as the Eucharist lends the hymn to being sung all year, but particularly as an Advent and Eucharistic hymn.

Tollite Portas Stile Antico – This gradual and offertory song, based on Psalm 23, sings of excitement and anticipation at the coming of the King of Glory.

Praeparate Corda Vestra Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles – Taken from the book of 1 Samuel, this hymn instructs the people to ready themselves to serve God.

Sign Me Up for the Christian Jubilee The Original Soul Stirrers– This American Gospel hymn continues the theme of being ready for Christ, but this time a focus on the second coming.

Even Unto Death Audrey Assad  & Justice Delivers its Death Sufjan Stevens– These two songs by contemporary Christian musicians and composers focus on the Advent theme of preparing for death.

Antiphon VII: O Emmanuel Choir of Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge

Syrian Marionite Chant from the Office of the Nativity Sr. Marie Keyrouz– This chant by Lebanese singer, Sister Marie Keyrouz sings a traditional Christmas Eve chant from the Marionite Catholic Church.

Conditor Alme Siderum Traditional– a chant sung during Vespers during Advent, this hymn dates from the 7th Century, though the text – which again center’s on Christ’s immediate coming- has changed throughout the centuries.

Salve Regina Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz – The Salve Regina or the “Hail Holy Queen” is the final prayer of the rosary.

The Virgin Mary Had one Son Josh Garrels – This new song about Mary and the birth of Christ by modern Christian musician Josh Garrels is worth a listen (or several in a row!)