Advent Wreath Lighting Liturgy 2013
May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing,
so that we may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans
Hope! Joy! Peace! Advent is the season in the Christian year when we
hear and participate in the time of waiting for the birth of the
Messiah. We look with hope for the second coming of Christ. We pray for
the light of Christ to fill "us with joy and peace in believing." We
hear the voice of God in scripture. We hear the voices of God's people
around the earth as we pray together for the joy and peace of Christ's
love to warm the hearts and lives of all humankind.
We use the colors of purple and blue in worship as visual reminders
of the season. One of the primary symbols of the season has become the
Advent Wreath. A quick search on the Internet will find several articles
on the history and tradition of the Advent Wreath. The wreath itself is
a symbol of life without end. The lighting of a candle each week marks
our journey through the four weeks of Advent. In 2013, Advent begins on December 1 and culminates with the lighting of the Christ candle on
Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
The Wreath and Litany
Advent Wreaths take many forms depending on your worship space and
creativity. In many settings, the wreath is a simple circle made from
fresh evergreens. Often there is someone in a faith community who is
interested in creating the wreath. Encourage artists within your
community to be creative with the natural materials found in your
geographical area as well as other materials such as wood or clay.
Always be aware of safety and ensure that the materials are not close to
the flame of the candles. The United Methodist Book of Worship
suggests that all four candles be purple with a larger white candle in
the center. Is there someone in your community who could make the
candles? In some settings, artists choose to place white candles within
purple candleholders. This is especially effective in settings where
there is a possibility of the candle being blown out by a breeze during
Consider a wide variety of ways the litany can be led within your
worship. Perhaps a different lay person or family in your church could
lead the devotion each week. Are there youth or children who could help
by reading or lighting the candles? One person can lead the entire
devotion or one person could read the scripture, another read the
devotion, and a third person lead the closing litany and song. In Advent
2010, the lectionary focus is the Book of Matthew. The Advent Wreath
Lighting Devotions provided here use one of the other lections each week
as the scripture focus.
The Music for the Advent Wreath Lighting
The sung response for each of the Advent Wreath Lighting Liturgies
can be taught and led in a variety of ways. You may want to start Advent
by using the "call and response" or "hear it, sing it" models of
learning, then move to the "sing it" model once the congregation knows
Call and Response: The song can be "lined out" for the
congregation and sung in a call and response pattern. The song leader
sings the first phrase, "I've got the light of God in me," inviting the
congregation to repeat the phrase. Each phrase of the song would be
taught in the same manner. The song leader could also "draw" the shape
of the music in the air to help the congregation see the music phrase
and to help them move down on the final ending.
Hear It, Sing It: The choir /praise team could sing the entire
stanza of the song, inviting the congregation to join them as they sing
the stanza a second time.
Sing It : Invite the congregation to learn this song as they
sing. The song leader will want to "draw" the shape of the melody to
help the congregation. You will also want to have the melody line played
by flute, recorder, violin, or light flute sound on the keyboard to
support the congregation.
"I've Got the Light of God in Me" should be sung with minimal
accompaniment. There is a separate full vocal/piano version available
for the church keyboardist as a pdf download. Consider
adding a light tambourine tap (or hand clap) on beat three of each
measure. The accompaniment can build over the four weeks of Advent by
adding guitar, simple drum patterns, or a light shaker. A light flute
stop or patch on the keyboard could be used to double the melody.
Consider using this several times during worship. For instance, it
could also be sung as a response to the reading of the scripture lesson.
If you prefer a celebrative end to worship on Christmas Eve/Day, sing
all of the stanzas "out into the world" as a response to the
A handbell or hand chime accompaniment is easily created by asking
the bells to ring the chords as noted on the music in any octave. You
can do this with just an octave of bells and a few ringers from your
choir/praise team--no bell tables needed! You could also create a simple
chart of the chords that is small enough to be held by each ringer
(e.g., 4" X 6"). Holding the chart, the bell ringers can be spaced
around the worship space and ring confidently. Add visual impact by
stapling lengths of gold and white ribbon or strips of shiny fabric
through the handles of the handbells.
Don't have handbells? No problem! Randomly ring any jingly sounding
bells or wind chimes that you may have. The goal is to add in the
celebrative sounds of Christmas and Christ's birth! Continue to use this
throughout Christmastide as a response to scripture, benediction,
pardon of sin, or any time of joy in worship.
Other options for a sung response to this liturgy on Christmas Eve include seasonal hymns of light. Consider using these songs as a part of the liturgy or part of your Christmas worship services.
“O Come, All Ye Faithful, stanza 2, “True God of True God” (#234, United Methodist Hymnal)
“I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light”, stanza 1 (#206, United Methodist Hymnal)
“God’s Own Light Came to Earth” stanza 1 with refrains (#131, Global Praise 3, Sri Lanka)
“Jesus, the Light of the World” (#3056, Worship and Song, Abingdon Press)
Epiphany Sunday is January 5, 2014. Ask everyone to bring a jingle
bell, small brass bell, or a small wind chime to worship. Use the
different stanzas at various points in worship such as call to worship,
response to the scripture, the prayer, and of course at the close of the
service. Everyone should ring their bells as they sing!
- by Rev. Debi Tyree
Executive Secretary for Global Praise