Welcome to planning for a new year, which begins with the season of Advent! Get ready for the four-week season that prepares and leads us into Christmas. Here are some tips, resources, and a bit of music to inspire your creativity.

Looking for new choral pieces for Advent? Look no further than some of our own Canadian publishers. Search for material at Cypress Choral, the Royal Canadian College of Organists, and Leslie Music Supply. You can still find retailers who stock great music from Berandol Music and Kelman Hall.

Looking for songs for congregational singing? Check out past Advent/Christmas/Epiphany editions of Gathering magazine. Two of the titles from 2018‒2019—Advent Prayer Song and Sing Now Gloria—are included on the Advent Unwrapped page.

Sign up for Daniel Gawthrop’s e-mail list to check out his free anthem entitled “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus.” At just two pages in a homophonic texture for SATB choir (with some soprano splits), this would be a great piece for Advent 1 and it won’t break your budget! Daniel is a prolific composer of choral, organ, and solo vocal music. You might recognize his name as the composer of a wonderful and popular choral piece, “Sing Me to Heaven.”

Adding some different liturgical music during Advent can certainly make everyone take notice that it’s a new season. Some churches add music for the lighting of the candles on the Advent wreath, but submissions to past Gathering magazines suggest that folks across the United Church are using music in conjunction with other parts of the liturgy. Maybe try one of these? Or get creative and try your own pairing!

  • VU 29, Hark the Glad Sound: response to prayers of confession
  • MV 134, There Was a Child in Galilee: response to petitions especially about justice
  • VU 55, v. 4, In the Bleak Mid-Winter: offering
  • VU 899, Song of Mary: during the call to worship, alternating words and music
  • VU 1, O Come, O Come Emmanuel: one verse per week as part of the call to worship
  • MV 71, When the Wind of Winter Blows: use the refrain for evening services or Blue Christmas
  • VU 9, People Look East: various verses as part of sending out or commissioning

If you are searching for music or struggling with finding the right thing, there are several other United Church resources to help. Join the Music United: United Church of Canada Association of Musicians Facebook page, and ask your colleagues and Music United convenors for help and advice. You can find other resources on The United Church of Canada website: search “Advent” and you will come up with pages like this one, which has great suggestions, dramas, music, and prayers.

Happy planning, and blessings for hope, peace, joy, and love!

—Tammy-Jo Mortensen is the music director at Robertson-Wesley United Church in Edmonton and the music editor of Gathering.

If you are wondering why we are sending out Advent material when it is still October, it is because we know that many of you are worship planners already looking several weeks ahead, and we hope that these messages might be helpful as you plan for Advent​!