Advent is about Christ’s coming. We celebrate three “comings” of Christ: as an infant in the manger; today in His Word and Sacraments; and at the last day. The ENTRANCE HYMN, “Hark! A Thrilling Voice is Sounding” (345) expresses these Advent themes.
We hear the “thrilling voice” saying “Christ is near” in the preaching of the Prophets—notably St. John the Baptizer (st. 1). We “haste to be forgiven at Divine Service (st. 3) and we prepare for His coming in glory, shielded in His mercy (st. 4). This anonymous Latin hymn connects us with Christians a millennium ago!
Gaudete means “rejoice” and is the name of the third Sunday in Advent, from the first word of the Introit. Today’s DISTRIBUTION MUSIC is a setting of these words by Healey Willan (1880-1968) from Philippians 4.4-5.
Today’s VOLUNTARY is the aria “Open Wide, My Heart and Spirit” by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) from Cantata 61. This cantata is one of two that Bach set of Savior of the Nations, Come (“Nun komm der Heiden Heiland”). The movement we hear today is a soprano solo, the fifth of six movements of the cantata.
The PRELUDE is a partita (multi-movement series of variations on a theme, like a hymn tune) on “Comfort, Comfort Ye My People” by Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706). Pachelbel was an important composer in the south German organ school, and composed over 200 works for organ, including chorale preludes (“chorale” is the German word for “hymn”), such as we hear today, as well as fugues, chaconnes, toccatas, and fantasias. He also wrote music for choirs and other instruments.
The lessons are Isaiah 40.1–8; 1 Corinthians 4.1–5; and St. Matthew 11.2–10.
The hymns are: 345 Hark! A Thrilling Voice is Sounding
344 On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry
347 Comfort, Comfort, Ye My People
346 When All the World Was Cursed
349 Hark the Glad Sound
354 Arise, O Christian People