Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My favorite ancient and contemporary music for Advent and Christmas Worship

The countdown begins!  For those who make the musical choices for Sunday worship, Advent and Christmas are two of the best seasons of the year.

In this post I'm going to outline some major and minor themes of advent and then list my favorite songs for planning worship under four stylistic categories: ancient (200 years+), traditional (50-200 years), contemporary (past 50 years) and convergent. 
In our church we emphasize a unified convergent style, with ancient liturgical traditions, allowing for the move of the spirit and embracing where God's people are creating musically today. We do not have a choir, organ, or orchestra. So like many worship bands trying to produce beautiful worship for our King, we are limited to more simplistic songs rhythmically and more melody focused. 

Themes for Advent

Advent is the season of remembrance anticipation and waiting for the promise of the Messiah is almost here. We as Christians recall the plight of humanity and the nation of Israel in waiting for the Savior to arrive. God has promised to send the Messiah. Not just any messiah, but The Messiah. The Game Changer. The one who would raise his people out of the sewers and restore them to right relationship with God. 

In Advent we remember looking forward and continue to look forward in hope and gratitude that God still loves us and has not forsaken us. That even though our failures in leaving Him and ignoring Him and His word, even though our preoccupation with ourselves has ruined our lives, that God is a God of Mercy and Grace who will  not let us go without a fight. He will send His Mighty Warrior to fight the battle and conquer sin, and give us an avenue to being in right relationship with God again.

Keywords: waiting, hope, promise, anticipation, come, expectation, healing, restoration, the King, the Son of Man, the Messiah, Emmanuel, Rescue, we need, Hosanna, preparation.

My favorites for Advent:

Let all mortal flesh keep silent
Day of Wrath O Day of Mourning v. 1-5
Hark a thrilling voice is sounding
Savior of the nations Come!
O Come O come Emmanuel


Hark! The glad sound
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Joy to the World
There's a voice in the wilderness crying. 
When came in flesh the Incarnate Word
What a Friend


Who will Ascend. -  Dan Wilt
Days of Elijah. -  Robin Mark
Prepare Ye the way - Michael W. Smith
Here I am to Worship. - Tim Hughes
We Fall Down.  -  chris Tomlin. 
Everlasting God. -  Brenton Brown
All who are thirsty. -  Brenton Brown
Your Grace is Enough. -  Matt Maher
Waiting Here for You. -  Christy Nockels
You Bring Peace.  - Sam Hargreaves
Forever.  -  Chris Tomlin
Love Came Down. - Bethel worship
Love Comes Down.  -   Matt Maher
Did you feel the mountains tremble. -  Martin Smith/Delirious
Fires. -  Matt Redman
The King is Coming. -  Jared Anderson
Let us adore. -  Ben Fielding/Darlene Zschech
Prepare the way  Jared Anderson
All God's Children. -  Martin Smith
Salvation is Here  -  Joel Houston
You'll Come-  Brook Fraser/Ligertwood
You are Holy. -  Marc Imboden
Lord we need you.  -   Josh Baker
Hosanna (Praise is Rising) -  Paul Baloche


Joy to the world (Unspeakable Joy). - Chris Tomlin
Joyful (the one who saves)

Songs for the Christmas Season


So here's a little known but fun fact for today's modern worship leaders. For most Christian worshippers in the ancient church, Christ's birth wasn't very important. Everybody knew that He had been born. They put more significance on Advent, Epiphany, the coming of the Magi, the baptism of Christ, and His first miracle. The emphasis for the earliest churches were How the Son of God revealed Himself and the promise was fulfilled. Some have said that Christmas was a way for the Christians to try and steal the thunder of The pagan sun god feast day, but I think it went much deeper than that. 

Around the same time that Christ's birth started to be emphasized was when the Church was fighting the battle of identifying God's ontological identity. In other words, was God Man or God. Christmas teaches us that God was and incarnate that he could've come in power as the son of a ruler, he could've been born to a rich family and started an empire, he could've descended and started turning rocks into bread and solved world hunger, making our version of utopia come to life....

But he didn't. He came as a baby. The weakest, most vulnerable creature there is. Most Animal babies can at least walk or hop or swim, but not humans. Our babies rely completely on the loving care of their parents in order to survive. He came as the weakest of the weak. The tradition of our Lord's nativity show us that He came to rule by serving. He established His throne by sacrificing. Everything about Christmas shows us the nature of Jesus as the Godman and his divinity is established and expounded through the tradition of Christmas. 

Because of this, however, not many ancient songs are easily found relating to Christmas.

Ancient Hymns

Jesus, light of all the nations (4th century)
Angels we have heard on high (converted from Angel's Hymn, ordained by AD 129)


Angels we have heard on High
Away in a Manger
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Joy to the World
O Come all Ye Faithful
Go Tell it On the Mountain
O Holy Night
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Silent Night
The First Noel
                                                              What Child is This?


Emmanuel  -  Reuben Morgan
Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground)   -  Chris Tomlin
He made a way in a manger
Glory to God   -   Brenton Brown
Here is Our King   -   David Crowder
Light Has Come   -   Charlie Hall
Love Came Down   -   Bethel Worship
Loves Comes Down   -   Matt Maher
Let Us Adore Him   -    Hillsong
Christmas Offering   -   Paul Baloche
Our King Has Come   -   Hillsong
Servant and King   -  Eoghan Heaslip
Silent Night (Emmanuel)   -   Matt Maher
Winter Snow   -   Audrey Assad
Your Name (Christmas Version)   -   Paul Baloche


All Creation Sing (Joy to the World)   -   Steve Fee
Joy to the World  (Unspeakable Joy)   -   Chris Tomlin
Joyful Joyful  (the One who Saves)   -   Brenton Brown
Hark the Herald  ( King of Heaven)   -   Paul Baloche
Joy to the World (Shout for Joy)   -   Paul Baloche

Thanks everyone and may God bless your Advent and Christmas Worship!

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