Advent & Christmas

111 Songs for Advent

Brett McCracken of The Gospel Coalition has compiled a playlist on Spotify of ‘111 Great Songs for Advent’. He explains the playlist here:

...I have curated a new playlist of 111 Advent songs. Not “holiday” songs, mind you. Advent songs. You won’t find “Deck the Halls” or “Let It Snow” on this list (lovely as they are). But you will find songs that beautifully capture the theological gravitas of this season in the Christian calendar—a season that is about both joy and longing, celebration and expectation, gratitude and petition.

If you are a Spotify user, you can follow this link to start listening to his playlist.

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Christmas Music Gift Ideas

Here are 3 albums to request for yourself, to gift someone else (or preferably both) this Christmas:

Behold (A Christmas Collection) -  Lauren Daigle

If you could imagine Adele accompanied by Louis Armstrong covering Christmas classics, you’d be somewhere close to the experience of listening to Lauren Daigle’s ‘Behold’ album. It starts with standards like ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’, ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘Jingle Bells’ and with a jazz tinge it goes in directions you wouldn’t expect. There are Christmas carols throughout such as ‘Silent Night’ and ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’, but the highlight of the album is surprisingly the most stripped back of them all, it’s an original called ‘Light of the World’

Glory to the light of the world,
for all who wait, for all who hunger,
for all who’ve prayed, for all who wonder,
Behold your King, Behold Messiah
Emmanuel, Emmanuel

This is an album you could buy for anyone you know or have playing when you have friends and family round this Christmas. It’s fun, it’s nostalgic, but at it’s heart it celebrates God’s plan for us in Jesus, which is the reason for the season, right?


Good News - Rend Collective

As the title suggests, this album is about the ‘Good News’ or ‘Gospel’ presented in a folk-roots style. The tone of the album is joy and hope in Jesus. 

Like all the Rend Collective albums it’s low-fi, not in terms of quality (which is excellent) but in everything they do they manage to keep their close-knit, campfire sound - as if you are right in there with the band. Expect lots of banjo, fiddle, singing, stomping, shouting and general raucous joy. 

I think the song “Resurrection Day” epitomises the album, the joy of salvation today, and the sure hope of the life to come in Jesus. 

Because You’re risen I can rise, 
Because You’re living I’m alive...
This is my resurrection day, 
nothing’s gonna hold me in the grave

Songs Of Common Prayer - Greg Lafollette

Lord open our lips, 
and our mouths shall sing your praise

These are the first words sung on the album, lifted from Psalm 51 and used in Anglican Liturgy as an invitation to worship. This sets the theme for this album of ten songs based on the Book of Common Prayer (clue in the title again). These are simple, short songs with interesting melodies and harmonies; it has an acoustic feel but there are synths and electric organ on this record as well.

This album certainly was a grower for me and was my wildcard choice for this recommendation. Whatever your opinion on liturgy, for me, this setting helped me see the words anew and gave me a new love for the great Bible based summaries of the gospel. I hope it will for you too, and maybe you could think of someone who might appreciate this as well.

Celebrating Advent as a Family

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Paul Jones, a member of Christ Church Walkley, and an elder, explains how he and his family use an advent candle to prepare well for Christmas.

Advent is a great time of year. We are all looking forward to Christmas and all that it brings; decorating the house, time off, time with family, presents, pigs in blankets, carols, a nativity and maybe a decent movie.

With all that is going on then sometimes it is hard to focus on what we celebrate at Christmas. I wonder if we actually timed ourselves and recorded how much time we spend doing “Christmas stuff” how much of it would actually be Jesus related? Even writing that, I’m convicted myself.

Over the past few years, one of the things we have looked to do as a family is to use an Advent Candle to help us prepare for Christmas and get our focus onto Jesus. The one that we use lists 25 names that Jesus is given throughout the Bible, one for each day in December. We have found it a really simple way to talk about the importance of Jesus, Christmas and the Bible with the boys.

In previous years we have paired the names on the candle with verses in the Bible. So every day at tea time we light the candle and then read the verse. It has been a great way to teach the boys, and ourselves, that the story of Jesus doesn’t start in Bethlehem but runs throughout scripture.

This year we have taken a slightly different appraoch, as the boys are that little bit older we have this year decided to incorporate a little bit more “in-depth” teaching about each name. Explaining what it means and why it’s important that Jesus is...The Messiah (That was today’s). Then we’ve include this as part of our prayer before tea. Our tea time prayer is generally thanking God for our food and we also pray through the church family using the prayer diary. It has been really good to include praying for, and thanking God for all the Bible tells us that Jesus is.

We do find it harder to look forward to the second Advent, and the return of Christ, but hopefully we remember to include this in our conversations over tea!

Our hope and prayer as parents is that these times round the table would really help us and the boys to grasp the joy of the incarnation – and it’s a great way to count down to Christmas too!!

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