It happens every year. The evenings grow darker as the weeks pass, and we all look longingly out the windows of work or school, counting down dwindling days until Christmas break. We admire the already-strung Christmas lights and cue up nostalgic movies. All these cultural signifiers shout “Christmas is coming!” And so we prepare our pantries, our gift wrap, and our front yards. In church, however, we prepare our hearts through the season of Advent. During Advent, we reflect on hope and waiting; we pause for devotions and share music that draws us close to the story of our Savior’s birth. The simple beauty of added instrumentals can help us pause the Christmas craze and focus on anticipation, peace, and hope in Jesus. Read on to discover instrumental arrangements that you’ll want to incorporate into services this Advent season.
Instrumentals and Storytelling
A Little Advent Music by Hugo Distler (edited by Larry Palmer) incorporates the rich tones of flute, oboe, violin, cello, and organ with SAB choir. Listeners will recognize the Advent chorale NUN KOMM, DER HEIDEN HEILAND, better known as the tune of “Savior of the Nations, Come.” The score also includes optional narration parts that share the story, beginning with the promise of the Savior, following through to Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, and concluding with the fulfillment as the “Word became flesh” (John 1:14).
Brighter Tunes for Brass
To contrast with the woodwind and string colors, Three Hymns of Praise for Advent offers the opportunity for a brass quartet to take on three Advent hymns in arrangements that can serve as hymn introductions or as preservice music. The instrumentation includes two trumpet parts and two trombones. “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” “Lift Up Your Heads, You Mighty Gates,” and “O People, Rise and Labor” are the three featured tunes in this selection.
Flute and Children’s Choir
“Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” by James Marriott draws on the themes of anticipation and hope to surround the congregation in the tender timbres of flute, two-part children’s choir, and piano. This accessible arrangement can be found in the The Concordia Children’s Choir Book, Volume 3, on its own, or via instant download. The smooth lilt of the flute instrumental line complements the simple singing of the children, making this an arrangement an excellent way to feature both.
Pausing for Peace
During the season of Advent, the text of these hymn arrangements draws us into a heart of preparation and helps us to focus on the miracle of Jesus becoming flesh to be our Savior. With devotions, prayer, and music, let us all reflect on the joy and peace that comes with knowing that our long-expected Jesus was born to die and rise for us!
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