This is probably my favorite of all the Advent playlists I've shared. Despite the (oft-justified) lamentation of the state of sacred music, a good number of reverent and beautiful pieces have been written in the modern era, and, like most of the Advent music I've been sharing, they deserve to be a bit better-known.
The Church, in her wisdom, is good enough to give us days of hope and joy in the midst of seasons of preparation and penance. I know many families who begin their decoration and baking today, as we get that tiny glimpse of rosy sunrise that comes before the full-blown dawn. With that in mind, here is some music that rejoices without sounding quite the full flowering of Christmas day.
No collection of Catholic music would be complete without the most ancient of them all, Gregorian Chant. This playlist includes hymns and chants from the Divine Office for the season (including some of the "O" Antiphons from the Vespers "countdown" to the Nativity), as well as those from Sunday Masses of the season.
The second installment in my Advent Music series are hymns, ranging from translations of 9th century Gregorian chant to modern-day compositions. Since most of these are written for congregational singing, I've included links to the lyrics (and music, where possible) below. If your domestic church is musically inclined, give them a go, but even if you don't sing them, I'd encourage you to have a look through the theologically-rich poetry of the words. It makes beautiful food for your meditation on this season.
Advent has some of the most beautiful, and neglected music of the Church year. Many hymnals carry a wide selection of lovely and theologically rich Advent hymns, but I consider myself lucky if I don't hear "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" three out of the four Sundays, despite the fact that the text is based upon The O Antiphons for the very last part of Advent (Sapientiatide, as the Episcopal Church calls it).
With that in mind, I'm hoping to introduce you throughout the season to some of these gems of sacred music. The first playlist features choral music of the Renaissance era. They are fantastic pieces for meditation, or perhaps as background music to help you maintain some interior stillness in this time of preparation. Maybe listen to a piece each night as part of your Jesse Tree or other Advent prayers.