An Advent Music Playlist: Wonder!

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I really enjoyed creating last year’s Advent music playlist: Sleepers, Wake! to learn more about songs appropriate for the Advent season and to help me hold off on the Christmas music until Christmastide.

So I really wanted to make a new one this year! It’s a little bit shorter than the first one, but I hope you’ll enjoy it. It’s got a little something for everyone, from very traditional Advent hymns to Belle and Sebastian singing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” So, either it will appeal to different kinds of people or it will be too eclectic for anyone to enjoy! But before we get there, I want to share about  my three favorite Advent music albums:

Advent at Ephesus: by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles. This album plays in our car all Advent long. It’s so beautiful. Very traditional, haunting Advent melodies. And the kids really like it. The nuns version of “O Come, Divine Messiah” inspired us to learn the new-to-us hymn and sing it each night as we lighted our Advent candles.

Handel’s Messiah. This has to be one of the most incredible scores of music ever composed. And the libretto is just splendid how it weaves Scripture together to tell the story. It’s not all Adventy, there’s some Christmasy parts and even Lenten and Easter sections but I love how it depicts the big picture of God’s redemption which is an important idea to reflect on during Advent.

And our new fave….In the Bleak Midwinter: by Marian Grace. Y’all. I can’t stop listening to it. And it’s not even Advent yet! Technically, it’s not just Advent music, but the titles go in order: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, with gorgeous chants between each section. The voice of the vocalist, Colleen Nixon, is just stunning. And Marian Grace structured it so that if you’re serious about not listening to Christmas music until Christmas, you can press pause after the Advent songs. But I warn you…you won’t want to stop there. I start the new Advent playlist with the opening track and I broke my playlist rule of only having each artist once, because I had to include Marian Grace’s “Creator of the Stars of Night.” The link above to Amazon only offers an MP3 download, but you can order the actual CD from Ignatius Press.

For reflections on Advent and practical ways to observe the season through food and traditions, check out our brand new ebook: Feast! Real Food, Reflections, and Simple Living for the Christian Year.

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  1. says

    Oh, it’s lovely, isn’t it?? Their version of O Come, Emmanuel is sure to be one of my new favorites. I also adore Amy Grant’s Breath of Heaven. I’d love to win this to gift to someone!

  2. Kathy says

    As a Baptist, I’ve always had Advent music seamlessly woven into Christmas music. Never before have I separated the two. Last year’s blog about this opened my eyes. Of course, O Come, O Come Emmanuel is my favorite and has been for many years.

  3. Sarah says

    Thank you for the playlist! This is my first year of trying to hold off on Christmas music until after advent and this list will help!

  4. Rae says

    Thank you for this blog!
    Unfortunately, I haven’t distinguished between Advent and Christmas music before, so thank you for the Advent song ideas!

    • Haley says

      Lilla, just click on the Rafflecopter widget at the bottom of the post. If you’re looking at the post in a feed reader, you’ll need to click over to the actual site. Hope that helps! ; )

  5. says

    Oh I love love love “In the bleak midwinter”. Can I cheat and say that’s my favorite too? Because it is. I have a Sarah McLachlan holiday CD (judge away…) and that is where I heard it first. Her version is beautiful, as is this version!

    I also love River by Joni Mitchell… (also on the McLachlan CD, but Joni’s version is best).

    • says

      (Oh and I realize that River is really not a “good” advent song… but it starts off saying that its almost Christmas, so it counts. 😉 )

  6. Elizabeth Rogers says

    I kept trying to make a youtube playlist of good advent music last year! I may need to invest in some of this music. There is one random musical theatre song that I love for advent – Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord from Godspell.

  7. Heather says

    Advent at Ephesus is a favorite of ours as well!! And o come o come Emmanuel isn’t a classic for nothing. We sing it as a family as a dinner blessing each evening during advent, it gets a little rowdy during the rejoice rejoice parts, but it’s definitely a favorite family tradition.

  8. Rachel S says

    Hmmm…I don’t know what I listen to during Advent. It seems like we sing a very select few at Church as well. I really like O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

  9. Meg says

    Haley, all these ideas are so helpful for somebody just trying to get into the liturgical year! I didn’t even know where to start for music. Thanks!

  10. says

    I’m excited to start listening to this! Although Catholic my whole life, this year I’m really trying to add more meaning into the feast days and traditions for our children. We’re learning so much!

  11. says

    The Advent at Ephesus CD is a favorite of mine. So , so beautiful. It’s extra-adorable when the three-year-old asks for “the pretty Sisters’ music,” too. 🙂

  12. says

    Just last night the young adult group from our parish was wishing we could just plug in “Advent music” into pandora and avoid all Christmas tunes. Unfortunately pandora doesn’t understand the difference…

  13. says

    My favorite Advent song is “O Come O Come Emmanuel,” but I’ve had the hardest time over the past few years finding more Advent music to listen to. These playlists are exactly what I’ve been looking for!

  14. says

    One of all my all-time favourite Advent/Christmas CDs is The Promise by Michael Card. It was a part of my childhood, so turning it on instantly brings back Advent memories of singing with my siblings at the top of my lungs as we would do dishes together. It does have a blend of Advent AND Christmas music, but I’m not a purist about that….yet. 😉

  15. Maureen says

    I love Marian Grace! My mother sent me their first two albums a few Easters ago, and I love the traditional hymns and chants… I even use them with my CCD classes! Also looking forward to Advent hymns to return – there are so many good ones!

  16. Molly says

    Advent is my favorite time of year. I always try to get my shopping done and Christmas cards out before December so that I can fully engulf myself in the season. I never really knew the difference between Christmas music and Advent music.

  17. Maria says

    We have an advent playlist we started last year but we are always on the lookout for new songs. Thanks so much for the recommendations!

  18. says

    I’ve been wanting to make playlists of Advent music for Advent, and Christmas music for Christmas, and “allow” other winter songs to be played more throughout the winter. I figure it’s a compromise I can make with my husband who would play “Christmas music” all year round! However, I haven’t gotten to that yet. I’m very excited about having found this playlist and your list from last year! Thank you! I’d really love this album to help us celebrate Advent!

    • Haley says

      I feel like I just realized this year how many “wintry” songs there are that I could still listen to during Advent. I might make a winter playlist for myself and the kids while we wait to play those Christmas carols 🙂

  19. says

    I have actually never really given the idea of Advent music a lot of thought. I’ve always just dove into the Christmas music (and am usually sick of it by the time Christmas actually comes). I’m going to avoid it this year as much as I can and then really celebrate Christmas! Thanks for the food for thought and this beautiful album! 🙂

    • Haley says

      It is kind of fun to still be really digging the Christmas music on January 5th while everyone else has already taken their tree down ; )

  20. Rebecca says

    I love the idea of “Advent” vs. “Christmas” music! It hadn’t really occurred to me before that there was a difference (thanks, secular world!). I am going to try to really make an example of the Advent part of the Christmas season for my three kiddos this year and including lovely Advent songs will definitely be part of it!

  21. Courtney says

    I am a Baptist, so there has never really been a separation between Advent and Christmas to me…or should I say a separation between “O Come Come Emmanuel” and Christmas music! But I love the somber tone of Advent music, and I love traditional Christmas music.

  22. says

    My favoritest Advent song is Lo, How a Rose E’re Blooming, which I didn’t know was an Advent song until you mentioned it on the play list last year. Loving the suggestions as mostly I don’t have Advent-y music.

  23. Jennifer says

    Haley, you have really helped me become practical with implementing the Liturgical year with my family. Thank you SO much for these play lists! We purchases Advent at Ephesus last year….and loved every minute of it. I also LOVE Enya’s version of O Come O Come Emmanuel. <3

  24. Becky says

    I would never have thought to find songs/music that are appropriate for Advent. Other than what we sing at mass obviously. I didn’t think about at home in my everyday life. What a great idea. And the CD would be a great way to kick start a new family tradition ;).

  25. says

    Oooh, so excited to see a new playlist for this year- I’m always looking to add to ours. My very favorite is Creator of the Stars of Night. I really like the version by High Street Hymns. And the Advent at Ephesus CD is a staple at our house, too. (I’m checking out the CD you’re giving away right now…hey, maybe I’ll win?) 🙂

  26. kt says

    In the Bleak Midwinter…

    Trying hard to observe Advent a little better this year and not have my almost 7 year old get too wrapped up in Santa and stuff. It is tough.

    Thank you for sharing!!!

  27. Sarah says

    Sufjan Stevens four volumed Christmas CD’s have go to be my absolute favorite with a mix of Christmas, Advent, Epiphany, and other hymns.

  28. Patty says

    O come divine messiah is one of my fave advent songs. We had to learn it in french for choir at one point in high school. Ptetty hilarious

  29. A A says

    I guess I’ve never thought about there being a difference between the two! After reading this post it got me thinking that I may need to look into implementing more Advent songs into our rotation of seasonal songs. This cd would help with that! Thanks for doing a giveaway.

  30. Natalie says

    My favorite Advent song is O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. And I adore Marian Grace! Adore! Colleen has the most angelic, beautiful voice! I was so excited to hear that Marian Grace recorded this new album!

  31. says

    Thank you for making this Advent playlist, Haley! I have heard wonderful things about Marian Grace, and would love to listen to this entire album. Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

  32. says

    “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is my #1 favorite Advent song but I also love “Creator of the Stars of Night”, especially when sung in Latin – we’re learning it in choir right now and it’s gorgeous!

    Totally didn’t know that you are friends with Colleen! Love her music and love your blog and not gonna lie, I wish I could be friends with the two of you! 🙂

    Happy Advent & God bless+

  33. Rachel says

    So glad you posted about Advent music. I play it until the second stage of Advent, about a week before Christmas. My favourites include Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel, Lo How A Rose Ere Blooming and Gabriel’s Message.

  34. Tracey Kruger says

    One of my favorite CDs of Advent music is one I got years ago, and is of Gregorian chant. There’s a separate Christmas one, too. I listen to them every year. Thanks for the giveaway!

  35. says

    Love these Advent song ideas! My favorite song for Advent is Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord.

    What’s your opinion on the song Santa Claus is Coming to Town–Advent or Christmas?

    I’m half kidding about that question, since it’s obviously not a religious song 🙂

  36. says

    O come, O come, Emmanuel! But its kinda sad that I never thought about Advent music and Christmas music separately. =/ I have been missing out, and not realizing what I am singing every Advent in Church. So glad I found your blog!

  37. Claire P says

    My friends and I have two arranged versions of O Come O Come Emmanuel that, one that is simultaneous Latin, English, German, and Spanish and another that is staggered in English

  38. Kimberly says

    I love some Gregorian Chant or The Priest’s music for Advent/Christmas! I just downloaded your ebook and am really excited to read just in time for Sunday 🙂

  39. Katie in GA says

    I just love Marian Grace! So excited about this album. Thanks for the giveaway.

    “O Come Divine Messiah” is my favorite Advent hymn. We sing it each day until Dec. 17, when we switch to “O Come O Come Emmanuel” for the days of the Great O Antiphons.

  40. Amy says

    Haley~ Thanks so much for the inspiration. I am really excited to get started on this faith journey. I am hoping to start some new traditions with my little one, Kate. Many blessings to you and yours!

  41. Norah says

    I love this post. I play piano for our church services and love discovering new advent music to play. It can be so beautiful and haunting. (In a good way). But I think my favorite to play may be Wake, oh wake because of the call to action that it delivers. Christmas is a gift to us, but we do not need to sit idly and wait for it to come, we can prepare our hearts in a very real way!

  42. Angela says

    Ah, I love good advent music. Sometimes it’s hard to find though. Thanks for sharing your list. I love the Advent at Ephesus.

  43. says

    Ack! Thanks for reminding me! I’ve been meaning to get this CD for Advent. It won’t be here in time, but I’ll be waiting expectantly, and isn’t that what it’s about? 😉

  44. says

    I have no idea what my favorite Advent song is…but I LOVE Marian Grace! I planned on looking for good Advent songs to make my own playlist so I want to thank you for doing the work for me! I’m excited to add those titles to my list.

  45. Jessica says

    The only “Advent” music I could say I am familiar with would be what I experience in during the mass! Everything else I would say is “Christmas” music; then it is holiday Christmas music, or Christian Christmas music. I am thankful to be made aware of a fuller distinction now.

  46. Michelle says

    Haley thank you so much for this playlist. What a gift! Exactly what I was looking/thirsting for! I’d been searching around the usual sugary pop christmas music and feeling discouraged. Thank you especially for introducing me to Marian Grace.

  47. Brandi says

    Hello Haley! I’m an Orthodox mama living in remote Romania. We thrive on Advent, and I have spent the past 5 years building an Advent Soundtrack for our family. I wouldn’t call it haunting or liturgical, but maybe you’d find something new on it to like. What I look for in an Advent song is something other (none of the usual stuff found in Christmas playlists), words that lead to longing and challenge one’s spirit, and music that stirs, unsettles, or comforts. Hope you find something here. Blessings on your upcoming Advent.

    For Adults (and kids):
    1. Winter Song, Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson
    2. Mary’s Gift, Roasted Chestnut Orchestra
    3. The Little Baby Jesus, American Mars
    4. Let It Be Born In Me, Wilder Atkins
    5. Some Clear Joy Is Coming, The Innocent Mission
    6. The Earth Stood Still, The Future of Forestry
    7. Salvation is Created (feat. Aimee Wilson) – Bifrost Arts
    8. May you find a Light – the Brilliance
    9. Falling Like Snow – Canaries in the Coal Mine
    10. Maybe this Christmas – Leigh Nash
    11. Someday at Christmas, Jack Johnson
    12. Cry of a Tiny Babe – Bruce Cockburn
    13. Still, still, still – Future of Forestry
    14. Amen, amen – Sojourn
    15. More, The Come Ons
    16. Winter Skin, Jars of Clay
    17. Peace, Peace, Sara Groves
    18. Of the Magi, Winterbloom – from O.Henry’s Gift of the Magi
    19. Come Darkness, Come Light, Mary Chapin Carpenter
    20. White Winter Hymnal, Fleet Foxes
    21. Prayer of St. Francis, Sarah McLlachlan
    22. Valley Winter Song, Fountains of Wayne
    23. The Music Is You, John Denver
    24. Hands, Jewel
    25. Christmas Song (Live), Dave Matthews
    26. All the King’s Horns, Sufjan Stevens
    27. All That I Want, The Weepies
    28. Hallelujah, Brandi Carlile
    29. Christmas Lights, Coldplay
    30. I Believe in Father Christmas, U2 (the only song that cannot be purchased on iTunes, but rather on Amazon.Com when you purchase the benefit CD, “All You need is love, playing for change)
    (All fit on one 700MB CD)
    31. What Child is This? , Sarah McLlachlan
    32. Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel, Joshua James & the Civil Wars
    33. Follow The Shepherd Home, Mindy Smith
    34. Oiche Chiuin, Enya
    35. Come, O Come Emmanuel, Enya
    36. Lullay Lully, Kerry Getz
    37. Journey of the Angels, Enya
    38. In The Morning, Jack Johnson
    39. Flame in the Darkness, Joe Jencks
    40. Enough is a Feast, Bill Harley
    41. Away in a Manger, John Denver
    42. Tikkun Olam, Joe Jencks – Jewish concept of “repair the world”
    43. “Lo how a rose e’re blooming” – Feist (Sweet Tracks, 2005…
    44. Good King Wenceles – Crash Test Dummies
    45. Christmas Like a Lullaby – John Denver
    46. Rise up Shepherd and Follow – Elizabeth Mitchell or Dan Zanes
    47. Winter, You Tease – Layla
    48. Light Of the World – Lauren Daigle

    For Kids (and adults):
    1. The Season of Light – Uncle Rock
    2. Peace will Come – Dog on Fleas
    3. Prepare the Way – Jim Cosgrove
    4. Tikkun Olam – Joanie Leeds
    5. Tikkun Olam – Miss Scherling
    6. People Around Me – Big Jeff
    7. A New Hallelujah – The Daraja Children’s Choir
    8. In the Bleak Midwinter – The Nields
    9. Sunny Christmas – Renee & Jeremy
    10. Sankta Lucia (Saint Lucia)
    11. Little Drummer Boy – Renee & Jeremy
    12. There’s too much good – The Hipwaders
    13. White is the Winter Night – Enya
    14. Over the River and Through the Woods – Dog on Fleas
    15. This Little Light of Mine – Bruce Springsteen (live)
    16. He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands – Ella Jenkins
    17. The Friendly Beasts- Sufjan Stevens
    18. Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer – Jack Johnson
    19. The Song that Saved the World – ScribbleMonster
    20. Holiday Time in Brooklyn – Dan Zanes
    21. Children Go Where I Send Thee – Natalie Merchant
    22. The Animals First Christmas – Kate Porter
    23. Christmas is Coming – John Denver and the Muppets
    24. The Peace Carol – John Denver and the Muppets
    25. 12 Days of Christmas – John Denver and the Muppets
    26. I Saw Three Ships- Sting
    27. Some Children See Him – Sixpence None the Richer
    28. Put a Little Love in Your Heart – Al Green or Renee & Jeremy


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