Isaiah 7:14" Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."
As a follow-up to last week's post about the general differences between Advent and Christmas music, I wanted to share with you 7 Advent songs that significantly and spiritually touch my heart. I am listing them in no particular order since they are all worth learning and listening to. Some of these songs were originally composed in Latin, though they are mostly sung in English today.
1. "Creator Alme Siderum" (Creator of the Circling Stars)
Deriving from the 7th century, in the chant style of Ambrose, this reflective chant is often sung on the first Sunday of Advent. Today you are most likely to hear it in the English form "Creator of the Stars of Night".
2. Holy is Your Name by David Haas
Based upon the text of Luke 1:46-55, this is perhaps my favorite song relating to Mary, the mother of Jesus. It is a song of pure praise.
3. "Holy is His Name" by John Michael Talbot
Ok, this one is similar to #2 textually, but I could not leave it off the list because it's too pleasing to the ear. The soothing, singable melody, harmony, and Biblical text make this a most treasured song of Advent.
4. "People Look East" by Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965)
This bright and cheerful Advent carol has a traditional French melody, and was published in the "Oxford Book of Carols" in 1928.
5. "Come Thou Redeemer of the Earth" (original text by St. Ambrose, translated by John Mason Neale)
This enchanting hymn is set to the tune of the 15th century "Puer Nobis Nascitur" (Unto us is born a son), which is found in the German Moosburg Gradual. I discovered the hymn on the Amazon Prime album "Advent at Ephesus" and fell in love with its beauty.
6. "Ev'ry Valley" from G.F. Handel's Messiah
The Messiah, an English language oratorio composed in 1741 by Baroque master Handel, has a libretto structured in 3 parts, which follow the liturgical year. Part 1 deals with Advent and Christmas and includes this piece. "Every Valley" is taken from Isaiah, a book of the Bible prophesying the birth of Christ. The virtuosic melismas make this piece a breath-defying feat for any singer.
7."Veni, Veni Emmanuel" (O Come, O Come Emmanuel)
The earliest derivation of the Latin text is in the Psalteriolum Cantionum Catholicarum from the year 1710 in Cologne. This is perhaps the most iconic Advent hymn of all. The season would not be complete without it.
And here is the English version, just because.