It would not bother me at all if Advent lasted significantly longer that it presently does. A friend and colleague asked me last week if I was ever able to really do the music I want during Advent. I told him that I didn’t because of the time crunch in preparing for Christmas, the reality that many choir members are gone during the month of December, preparing for Lessons and Carols, etc. He stated that he felt exactly the same way.

There has been a move afoot for a few years to extend the season of Advent to be the seven Sundays prior to Christmas (as opposed to our present four). The Eastern Orthodox celebrate seven Sundays of Advent, and for years the western church did as well. While the longer season would give us more of an opportunity to sing so much wonderful Advent music, it also would help Advent stand apart as not just the prelude to Christmas, but its own stand-alone season.

I will also confess that I think the richest elements of our hymnal, The Hymnal 1982, is the Advent section. The hymns of this season are spectacular. I think there’s no greater marriage of text and tune than hymn #57, Lo! He comes with clouds descending, Helmsley. One of my former organ professors once told me that he hopes that when Christ comes back to the world, it will be during some congregation’s robust singing of verse 3 of this hymn.

Hymns #67 “Comfort, comfort ye my people” Psalm 42, and #65 “Prepare the way, O Zion” Bereden väg för Herran, could be dances (another former professor referred to them as “Genevan jigs”). The Advent hymns also dismiss the idea that hymns in a minor key are always sad! We sing about rejoicing in minor keys and there is nothing dreary about it. The toughest part of Advent is trying to get to sing all of these great hymns even just once!

I invite you pay careful attention to the music we sing this season. If you want to branch out further, check out some of J.S. Bach’s marvelous Advent cantatas! So much great music, and so little time. It’s fine for me if Christmas takes its time getting here.