For someone who really likes to celebrate, I don’t get too fired up about my birthday. It’s just another day. I relish the Facebook messages and phone calls and occasional gifts, but I was never one to expect the world to stop for me.
Unless, that is, my birthday falls on the First Sunday of Advent, which it does this year!
As a liturgical calendar nerd, this is a real treat. Since December is a crazy season for me musically, I try to do something every year that sanctifies the season of Advent, reminding me constantly that no matter what the store displays might say, in my heart it won’t be Christmas until sundown on December 24.
One year, during time in my life when I drank too much iced coffee, I gave up Dunkin’ runs in the morning. One year I committed to blogging reflections on readiness. This year I hope to journal for a few minutes every day – writing for me.
There are some great resources that stay with me through the season. Here are a few of my favorites!
This has become essential – in fact, listening to it is one of the reasons I look forward to Advent! The Benedictines of Mary have recorded a series of albums for the liturgical year, each combinations of hymnody, motets, and chant.
Sacred Space for Advent and the Christmas Season 2015-2016
I plan to use this as inspiration for my journaling during Advent. These inexpensive and light paperbacks (also available in Kindle Edition) provide Scripture for the day with simple prompts for prayer and reflection.
Hark! A Thrilling Voice is Sounding by the Choir of the Church of Our Saviour
This one is a new release for 2015 from the Choir of the Church of Our Saviour, directed by my friend, the gifted musician Paul. J. Murray. He consistently assembles some of the best singers in New York for his choirs (I’m not just saying that because I have sung with his choirs before!), and this fall he guided them in recording pieces for Advent and Christmas. The link above takes you to a download page on CD baby, and you can find it now on iTunes.
A Book of Advent and Christmas Prayers
Another lightweight, portable resource, this is a compilation of formal prayers and devotions for the season.
The gold standard as far as I’m concerned: a condensed, one-volume edition of the Liturgy of the Hours for morning and evening prayer.
Lessons and Carols
I love this traditional Advent service so much, I started running one a few years ago. There are a handful of recordings out there of different services, including A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, from King’s College where the tradition began. I recommend trying to find a live service closer to home. The service alternates Scripture readings taking us from Genesis to the Johannine Prologue, with hymns and carols. This is a beautiful, structured, musical way to enrich your Advent.
How do you plan to keep Advent?
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Fran Rossi Szpylczyn says
Thanks for this post – I love Advent. So, how then will I keep Advent? I will use my homemade Advent wreath for starters. In the darkness of the very early morning, I get up and I pray – and for some time before I read anything, or write in my journal, I will simply watch the flame(s) burn. Very prayerful for me, and some extra silence in the waiting time. And I will walk, in the cold, the rain, the snow, I will walk as part of my prayer of waiting.
Consciously I try to be aware of just that – waiting, hoping, a period of expectancy. It is always a challenge against the push of the “season.”
Margaret Felice says
Gorgeous. I asked for my first grown-up Advent wreath from my mother for my birthday this year. (One can only guess if she will remember that I asked, but that’s OK.) I think that will be a great addition to our home for our first married Advent 🙂
Megan Turner says
Loved your post. I am a convert and I love all the celebrations in our Faith. Looking forward to listening to the music u recommended
Margaret Felice says
How wonderful to hear – have a blessed Advent!