Dear Friends in Christ,

“A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 40:3-5).

When I served as a parish pastor, I always enjoyed the Season of Advent. The Royal Blue paraments that adorn the altar, lectern, and pulpit. Our evening family devotions, even when the boys argued over who gets to snuff out the candles. The Advent calendars to help us to keep count, and especially the calendars with a piece of Swiss Chocolate behind each door. The weekly lighting of the four Advent candles during worship as we await the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. I always looked forward to those Advent rituals and practices, and even though our family is smaller, Rachel, Hannah, and I still have Advent Family Devotions, and Hannah gets to snuff out the candles as we end.

What I am especially missing this year is Advent hymns, and specifically Advent hymns that are accompanied by an organ and congregational singing. There is just something about those hymns that hauntingly draws my soul into the promise of the coming Messiah. I love the texts and especially the tunes of Savior of the Nations, Come; Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus; Awake! Awake, and Greet the New Morn; and of course, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

Though my favorite Advent hymn is Prepare the Royal Highway, and I especially love the truth of the words in the second stanza, “God’s promise will not fail you”.

My hunch is that many of you are also missing traditional Advent hymns, so I am sharing one with you today. Ryan Luhrs, the Music Director at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Hickory, North Carolina, has put together a Virtual Choir selection of Prepare the Royal Highway. Pastor Christy Lohr Sapp has given me permission to share this 4:30 minute video with you. Check it out.

Prepare the Royal Highway

I leave you with two questions

  1. What rituals and practices do you especially cherish about the Season of Advent?
  2. What is your favorite Advent hymn?