Music for Advent: Expecting the King

Posted by John Gardner on December 4, 2022
Music for Advent: Expecting the King

The Thanksgiving leftovers are gone, Black “Friday” is entering its second month, and trees are being lit all over town, as the collective attention of the world begins to turn toward Christmas. ’Tis the season for hustle, bustle, Santa, and snowplows!

But on the historic church calendar, Christmas (with its 12 days of celebration) doesn’t begin until December 25. For the four weeks before then, we have the season of Advent (from the Latin word for “arrival”), traditionally emphasizing the themes of Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy. Liturgically, it is a season of waiting and expectation, when we remember the promise of the long-expected Messiah and proclaim our faith in the promise that He is coming again to reign forever.

While our church does not come from a tradition that is beholden to the liturgical calendar, we will have a three-week seasonal sermon series beginning next Sunday, oriented around the blessed hope of Christ’s triumphant return. The link between the first and second comings of Jesus is a close one, and I’m eager to spend the next few weeks celebrating these themes with our church family!

One of my favorite ways to get more out of our Lord’s Day gatherings is to spend time throughout the week listening to music which helps to focus my heart and mind on the themes and Scriptures we’ll be studying together. Often I’ll build playlists on Spotify for this purpose. In addition to the spiritual benefits this brings, it’s also a great way to discover new songs and artists.

This year, I’ve created a new playlist to go along with our “Everlasting Kingdom” theme. Because the theme is more geared around Advent this year, this playlist is intentionally not very “Christmasy.” That said, if you find yourself in the mood for Christmas music in the next several weeks, last year’s playlist is still a good one. It consists entirely of carols, though not necessarily the most familiar arrangements. 

I do want to highlight a few standout songs from the new playlist, with some reasons why I think they are worth listening to this holiday season:

Psalm 145 

by The Modern Post

This song is a paraphrase of Psalm 145, which is one of the primary texts from which we are drawing inspiration for this year’s theme. It also happens to be one of the songs our choir and orchestra will be performing next Sunday evening during our Christmas concert!

Glory to God in the Highest 

by Doorpost Songs

The last decade has seen an encouraging trend of Scripture songs, helpful for teaching God’s Word to children, as well as to adults. Houston-based Doorpost Songs is turning out some really incredible music which contains longer passages of Scripture, rather than single verses. The text of this song is Luke 2:10-20, and it’s well worth checking out!

Wonderful Counselor 

by Providence Worship

One of the key Messianic texts often read at Christmas—most famously set to music by George Frederic Handel in his Messiah—is Isaiah 9:2-7. It can be easy to read this text in isolation and forget that its context was words of comfort to a people surrounded by “the gloom of anguish” (Isaiah 8:22). This song by Providence Worship is one of two new songs in this playlist based on Isaiah 9:6 which remind us that the promised Messiah is near to the brokenhearted. He offers hope for those for whom Christmas—and its often skin-deep façade of happiness—is a particularly difficult season.



Another Isaiah 9 song, “Wonderful” speaks specifically to those who are missing loved ones during the holidays. Among its songwriters is Steven Curtis Chapman, who lost one of his children at age 5 in a tragic accident. He knows well the pain expressed in the lines, “Through the joy and laughter, you can feel the sadness / ‘Cause this Christmas everyone’s not with us / It’s the time of year when happiness and cheer / Won’t be enough to get me through the night.”

My Soul Magnifies the Lord 

by Journey Worship Co.

I love how this song places the story of the Incarnation within the grand scope of redemptive history. The first verse begins in Eden, ending with the first proclamation of the Gospel in Genesis 3 that the seed of the woman would crush Satan’s head, leading to a chorus based on Mary’s Magnificat in Luke 1. Her son was that promised seed, the Ancient of Days and the salvation of the world, and with her our souls magnify the Lord Jesus!

I hope you’ll give this playlist a listen and find something new that helps your soul to sing Christ’s praises. Please join us as well next Sunday evening as we help kick off our celebration of His “Everlasting Kingdom” with a worship concert featuring our choir, orchestra, children’s choir, and band! The program begins at 6:00 pm and will last around an hour. In addition to some of the songs on the playlist, you’ll hear some really fun big band arrangements of some of our favorite carols that will totally put you “In the Mood” for Christmas!

John Gardner

John is the pastor over Music Ministry at Faith Bible Church. He is a coffee aficionado who loves most kinds of music, but has a particular fondness for big band (especially when he's playing trumpet in the band). He and his wife, Laurie, have 3 kids who enjoy reading, hiking, and the symphony.

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