All I Want for Christmas is an Advent Playlist

Advent HymnalKatherine Greiner’s post on the practices of waiting during Advent struck a chord with me—and opened up the question of which chords to strike.*  While I’m not such a liturgical purist as to find Christmas songs abhorrent before their proper liturgical time, I am wary (and weary) of being preemptively inundated with the songs of the season.  Secular or pop-sacred, they propel me out of an Advent spirituality by offering to fill me up before I’m aware of the deep longing that Advent can uncover.  With so many opportunities to customize music through streaming services, my question is:

What’s on your Advent playlist?

I have a few suggestions below to get us started, but feel free to chime in with your ideas about songs and links to favored versions.

Best. Advent. Song. Ever. :   “People Look East”

You can find a choral version here. For me, the lyrics are rich metaphors of Advent spirituality.  Try out the first verse:

“People, look east. The time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.”

If these lines don’t lead you to seek out the sacred in the midst of the ordinary while pondering who you’re really preparing for, I don’t know what will.

Advent Pop:  “The River”

Joni Mitchell’s version is a classic, though Robert Downey, Jr. had a great cover on Ally McBeal back in the day.  Yes, it’s about a lost love made more poignant by the romance we’ve built up around Christmas; but, the desire to skate away from heartbreak and sin can also be about our longing for a love marked by joy and peace.

Advent-Appropriate Harking of the Herald Angel:  “Gabriel’s Message”

I’m partial to Sting’s version, and in this performance he’s boasting a beard for extra hipster points.  OK, so the last verse obtrudes into the Christmas season, but it’s mostly about the annunciation, a reading that is very much part of the Advent season due to the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8.  How do we say “yes” to the Holy Spirit in Advent so that God may become incarnate in our lives?

Add to the playlist in the comments below!  

*Puns are signs of the world’s deep need for redemption.  Just a friendly Advent reminder from me to you.