The celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, is fast approaching, and with it comes an abundance of music. It’s easy to bypass Advent and skip ahead to Christmas. But Advent is a crucial time of reflection inwardly as we prepare for the Prince of Peace and what His birth means for believers. Music is just one of the many ways in which you can share about Jesus and reflect on why Advent is an important part of our Church Year. Here are our top children’s hymns for Advent to add to the mix of music your children or students will hear.
We Light the Advent Candle
This newer Advent hymn, “We Light the Advent Candle” (OAR 172), uses a familiar tune to provide a fresh option to sing about the weeks of Advent. Each stanza talks about lighting a new candle on the Advent wreath until the fifth stanza, which is sung for Christmas. With each new stanza, your children and students can sing why the Advent wreath and candles are important, along with what Advent represents in the Church Year.
We light the Advent candle
And wait for Christ to come.
With hope, we trust the promise
That He will bring us home.
Try singing one stanza each week and discussing the themes found in the text of the hymn with your students. What is the promise God makes in Christ? Why are we waiting for Christ? What is the message of blessing that Christians spread to others? Then, let the hymn grow as you get closer to Christmas with each candle you light!
Learning a canon, such as the “Advent Canon” (OAR 175), is a beneficial way to teach not just about music but also about the meaning of Advent. The repetitive pattern of the canon provides simple and easy-to-memorize stanzas for children to learn. The meaning of Advent is built up with each stanza and ends with the phrase “Come, Lord Jesus, come,” summarizing the anticipation we feel for the celebration of the birth of our Savior.
The canon is also beneficial for including any young musicians so they can learn. It’s a wonderful learning tool for budding instrumentalists to play on beats 1 and 3 with the chord progression. Even if your children or students do not have much experience playing, the repetitive pattern lends itself well to quick, hands-on learning.
Lift Up Your Heads, You Everlasting Doors
The hymn text from “Lift Up Your Heads, You Everlasting Doors” (OAR 174) pulls from Psalm 24:3–10 and Revelation 5:6–14, which flashes back to the fulfillment of prophecy with Christ’s birth and then forward to Christ’s return. The simple rhythm and short stanzas make this hymn easy for children to learn as they ask questions such as “Who is this King of great and glorious fame? What is His name?” The simple instrumental part is also a perfect way for new instrumentalists to practice their skills while learning to accompany a choir.
With this simple tune, children can learn a little more about who Christ is and why we celebrate this sacred time in the Church Year every year. Take it a step further by asking children and students to read Psalm 24:3–10 and discuss what these verses show about their Savior.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
The hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (OAR 177) is known by many, and it fits well within the Advent season. Even if your students are well versed in this hymn, you can help them take it one step further with The Great “O” Antiphons. The antiphons draw common names used for Christ from God’s Word and reflect on Christ as our Savior from creation (“O Wisdom”) to His birth (“O Emmanuel”). They can also be used as devotional content that will further the understanding of the differences between Advent and Christmas.
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