This simple form of evening worship is intended to be used during the lighting of the Advent wreath or other table candles at home from November 29 to December 24. It can be used at the daily evening meal, or another time. The entire form will take no more than five minutes.
The beauty is in the simplicity and repetition for people of all ages. Repeating these words together centers them in our heads and hearts, and draws us into the longing and anticipation of the Advent season, so that we might experience the joy of Christmas with deeper gladness. You will need three purple or blue candles, one pink candle, and some trimmed evergreens to encircle them. This homemade wreath may be placed at the center of the dining table or another suitable gathering place.
This service is based on An Order of Worship for the Evening, found in The Book of Common Prayer 1979, p. 109. The BCP may be found online here.
UPDATE: Each week of Advent, the Saint Mark's Prayer Podcast for Children and Families will release an episode presenting the service below in audio format, featuring some familiar voices from the Saint Mark's community. For Week 1, there is an additional bonus episode with an "instructed" version of the same liturgy, interspersing comments and explanations about the various elements. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, or listen to the episodes embedded at the bottom of this page!
A leader begins by saying the antiphon of the week, or:
Light and peace in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Thanks be to God.
ANTIPHON OF THE WEEK
FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT: “Keep Awake!”
November 29–December 5
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you.
SECOND WEEK OF ADVENT: “Prepare the Way”
December 6–December 12
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
THIRD WEEK OF ADVENT: “Testify to the Light”
December 13–December 19
The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad indeed.
FOURTH WEEK OF ADVENT: “Here am I”
December 20–December 24 (Advent ends at sundown.)
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
THE GREAT "O" ANTIPHONS
On the final seven nights of Advent, December 17 through 23, there are special antiphons appointed for evening prayer each evening. These are called the “O Antiphons,” and they form the basis of the verses of the hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and of the O Antiphons Liturgy offered at Saint Mark’s each year. Read more about the O Antiphons here.
1. "O Wisdom" (December 17)
2. "O Adonai" (December 18)
3. "O Root of Jesse" (December 19)
4. "O Key of David" (December 20)
5. "O Rising Dawn" (December 21)
6. "O King of Nations" (December 22)
7. "O Emmanuel" (December 23)
Short (2-minute) video reflections on the theme or antiphon of each week have been created by Saint Mark community members! Week 1: Michael Perera • Week 2: Tallulah Campbell • Week 3: The Nelson Brown Family • Week 4: Matt Briggs & Victoria Szydlowski. The videos will be added here each week. All the videos may also be found here.
A reader reads the following, or another appropriate passage of Holy Scripture:
If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me, and the light around me turn to night,” darkness is not dark to you, O Lord; the night is as bright as the day; darkness and light to you are both alike.
All pray together:
God of all the ages, rouse us from sleep, and form us into a watchful people, so that, at the advent of your Son, we may be prepared, bearing witness to your light, and eager to receive you. We ask this through your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
LIGHTING OF THE ADVENT WREATH
The Advent wreath is now lighted, lighting one blue/purple candle during the first week, two candles during the second week, and so on.
The pink candle is lighted on the third week.
Conclude by saying or singing the evening hymn, known as the Phos hilaron, one of the oldest Christian hymns, first recorded in Greek in the 3rd century.
O gracious Light,
pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!
Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O giver of life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.
Saint Mark’s Congregation & Evensong Choir
The Compline Choir
from The Church of the Apostles, Seattle
8 members of the Saint Mark’s Evensong Choir
Saint Mark’s Evensong Choir
setting by Owain Par, sung by the Cambridge Chorale
If dinner follows immediately, say together the mealtime blessing for Advent:
Holy God, we give you thanks for this meal, and for the One who is, and is to come among us. Make us steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, and constant in love. We pray this in the name of your son Jesus, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Amen.