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Advent music on theme of "Light"

I'm looking (already!) at putting together a program of readings, congregational carols and choir (SATB) pieces for a 1 hour service in early December (it takes me a while to get organized). Has anyone done anything similar, or have suggestions on what could be included?
Brian Millar, D.o.M Anglican Church of St. Mark, Remuera, Auckland, New Zealand
Replies (18): Threaded | Chronological
on May 8, 2013 3:54am
Hello, Brian.  For your consideration, an Advent piece for which I wrote the lyrics has just been released:  Glory Will Arise! (Zebulun, Arise!)
It is based on the verses from Isaiah 9:1-7 and Matthew 4:15-16 about the people living in darkness seeing a great light.  There are two texts provided - one with the actual place names used in the Scripture (land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali) and a more general text which could apply to any place.  David Lantz III composed the music.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on May 16, 2013 6:01am
Dear Brian,  
This sounds like a lovely theme for an Advent concert/Service.  May I suggest the following pieces which texts all include "light" - just click on the "View Music" link on the top right of the page to view the octavo.  All the best to you!
Bonnie Duckworth - Come, Dear Christ, Your World Awaits :
Robert Lind - The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns:
Austin Lovelace - A Winter Carol:
William Ferris - O Sun of Justice:
Michael McCabe - Advent Carol:
Derek Healey - Shepherds Keeping Watch at Night:
J.William Greene - I'm a Shepherd Born to Sorrow:
View all music at:
on May 8, 2013 4:03am
I have two New Zealand themed Advent Carols in which the word 'light' features prominently:
Please let me know if you would like to see the scores.
Thank you,
Christopher Marshall
Applauded by an audience of 1
on May 8, 2013 4:45am
Hi Brian -
We've used this theme a couple times in the last several years.
The first, we used “HOLY LIGHT” a service of carols by Robert Hobby.  Familiar carols for this service include “Still, Still, Still,” “What Child Is This,” “Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella” and “Joy to the World” among many others.  Special readings for this service were written by Susan Palo Cherwien. It is accompanied by keyboard and brass - we added handbells.
The second time, we constructed our own service using

bells O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright

speaker 1 - John 1 "The light shines in the darkness"

choir Song of the Stars

hymn  Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers 

speaker 2 - A Step by Raja Sivaji

choir and clarinet Celtic Advent Carol

speaker 3 - Isaiah "I will turn the darkness before them into light"

hymn  The First Noel

bells Come, All You Shepherds

speaker 4 - Light, Sum of All by Susan Palo Cherwien

choirs and clarinet On Christmas Night

hymn   I Am So Glad Each Christmas Eve

bells Twas in the Moon of Wintertime

hymn O Come, All Ye Faithful

speaker 5 - The Lord's Light Within by M.S. Lowndes

choir Oh How Beautiful the Sky

choir By Candlelight Ruth Elaine Schram

speaker 6 - James 1 “from the Father of the heavenly lights

choirs The Light Come Down

recessional Angels from the Realms

benediction by John O'Donohue

This is a wonderful and flexible theme!

Best wishes,


on May 8, 2013 5:25am
Hi, this is James Reyes in Boston, MA. I have composed a setting of "Light grow longer, dark grow less" (poem by Robert Hillyer). If interested, i can send you
a copy.
All the best,
James Reyes
on May 8, 2013 5:30am
Brian, there is a wonderful congregational hymn in the United Methodist hymnbook (# 206) entitled "I want to walk as a Child of the Light."
Bill Sherrill
on May 8, 2013 7:33am
Here's a piece about the transition from dark into light at Advent.
A Sign of Day to Come, SATB a cappella

The publishing site has a perusal pdf and an audio sample.

Applauded by an audience of 1
on May 8, 2013 8:56pm
   There is an amazing piece in the ChoralNet Composition Showcase that could be the center piece of your concert.  It is a bit challenging in range and has soprano divisi, but if you are willing to stretch check this out.  The piece is Silver Night by Melinda Bargreen.  It is a gem! Here is the link to the audio:
It has been my experience that a piece like this can really motivate a choir to excel.  
on May 9, 2013 10:02pm
As for one of the anthems, Brian, if your choir can handle divisi and has at least one good low bass, Whitacre's Lux Arumque has a text that fits your theme.  
on May 10, 2013 4:49am
Brian -- Bravo for getting organized well ahead of time!  May I suggest my "In The Beginning Was Imagination" for SATB a cappella with divisi?  It's a quiet, reverent piece and Gerald Bullet's imaginative text draws inspiration from the book of John, extolling "..that Light which lights everyone who comes into the world...."  Singers and listeners over the years have liked its evolving melody and harmony.  Score, text and details at this page on my website.  best wishes, 
Christopher J. Hoh
on May 10, 2013 8:01pm
If you're open to spiritual/gospel pieces and have a pianist who can play gospel, I like "Walk in the Light".  We used a Chorister's Guild arrangement by Andre Thomas CGA1063.  It's easy/fun to sing, and has a recurring phrase, "Jesus, the Light of the World".  You can hear a recording of it on Stanton's music website.
Robin Leary
Saratoga Spgs., NY
on May 12, 2013 4:13am
Scandinavia has a tradition of lighting Christmas candles to celebrate St Lucy's day (December 13) as the beginning of the Christmas season. There's a significant association of "Christmas lights" with "season of peace and goodwill". It's reflected in various well-known songs such as Jul, jul, strålande jul and Nu tändas tusen juleljus. If that kind of thing interests you, then it's easy to track down choral arrangements. On the other hand, if you're looking for explicitly religious pieces, these may not be what you want.
on May 13, 2013 5:49am
Any setting of George Herbert's "Come My Way My Truth My Life." I have used Z. Randall Stroope's during Advent several times.
Movements 2 and 3 from Morten Lauridsen's "Lux Aeterna" work during Advent.
on May 13, 2013 6:51am
"Let There Be Light" by Mary McDonald, published by Lorenz.  Beautiful, easy, more 'blended worship' than 'high church' but should still work for any group.  If possible, buy the orchestration and use at least the flute and cello parts with keyboard; it will really enhance the piece.  It quotes "Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne" at the end.
on May 13, 2013 8:02pm
I'm surprised no one has mentioned "Heavenly Light" Kopylow, I believe..or is that one just too obvious.. ;)  It is on many Robert Shaw recordings.
I agree that "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light" from UMC hymnal is good.  There is also one in The Faith We Sing (also UMC), in a joyful 3/4,  entitled "We Are Called". (Lyrics are "Come, live in the light.  ...We are called to give light to the ...." 
"Lux aeterna"(e) from any number of masses, requiems, etc. are worth a look.  The section of Faure's Requiem after the baritoine solo 'hostias...'  when the sopranos come in, holding "Lu-u-x aeterna, luceat eis" comes to mind.
The Prayer of St. Francis (there are many settings) includes, "in our darkness, light"
If you want a little "soulful funk", then "You are the Light of the World" from Godspell is great.  (S. Schwartz, composer of Wicked, Children of Eden, and parts of West Side Story)
  Carole Bayer Sager's 'The Prayer" begins with "I pray you'll be our light"...
Best Wishes with what sounds like a beautifully inspiring program.
on May 13, 2013 8:12pm
Hi Brian,
For your December Advent program, I highly recommend that you consider using a selection from Richard Toensing's set of 24 New Orthodox Carols for the Nativity of Christ, which are beautiful, approachable, and varied, both in spirit and in musical idiom. Some are in the Greco-Byzantine style, some are in a pentatonic folk-like idiom, and still others are in standard Western tonality; yet al,l of them have a fresh twist to melody, harmony, or rhythm.
They are free to use, and PDFs of each carol can be downloaded at Richard Toensing's website,
Here are three carols to listen to, which were recorded by Cappella Romana:
Once Sorrow had Silenced Zion's Harps,
Feel free to contact me if you have questions about these glorious carols.
Janet Braccio
Publicist for Richard Toensing
Bella Voce Communications
on May 14, 2013 12:53pm
"Light" being such a central theological concept, there are a jillion... A few from my library:
Children of Light. Webdell. Colla Voce
Any Lux Aeterna (Lauridsen)
Arise, Shine, for Your Light Has Come. mathias. oxford
God's Great Lights. Kemp. Concordia
Holy Radiant Light. Gretchaninoff.
I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light. Thomerson. MorningStar
Let There Be Light. Gilbert Martin. Schirmer
Light Everlasting. O. Christiansen
Prayer for the Blessing of Light.  Archer. oxford (in "Advent for Choirs"?)
This Little Light of Mine. Brown. Abingdon
The Lord Is My Light and My Salvation. Rutter
True Light. Hampton. earthsongs
Lux Aurumque. Whitacre
Tom Brown
Covenant Presbyterian
Austin, TX
on May 22, 2013 8:38am
Hi, Brian --
I'm joining the conversation a bit late here.  Sounds like a terrific program!  I'd invite you to consider my "O magnum mysterium," which was composed for a NYC group called Choral Chameleon and their winter concert, which was called "Summoning Light."  While the text is not explicitly about light, I composed the music so that it paints a transformation from darkness (represented by the minor mode) to light (represented by the major).  It is in 6/4 time, moves at a gentle tempo, and features a fugue on the word "Alleluia."  You can peruse, hear, and purchase the score here:
Thanks for taking a look/listen!
Best regards,
Joseph Gregorio
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