Advent packs so many rich symbols into a few short weeks. While family time is often scarce, we have found that families try harder during these four weeks to spend time together. With that in mind, I wanted to create a “take home” Advent box that helped families to make the most of this anticipatory time.
Lighting Advent Candles
I started by writing a short prayer service to accompany lighting the candles on the Advent wreath. The liturgy includes lighting the candle(s). The leader reads the antiphon verse and a reflection prompt aloud, and the family is invited to respond. The short service finishes with prayers.
Why Antiphons? (And What Is an Antiphon?)
I had every intention of using scripture appointed for the days during Advent until I started to feel like there is nothing particularly Episcopalian or liturgical about Bible verses. Instead, I chose antiphons, the most ancient/traditional of Catholic/Anglican/Episcopal prayers.
An antiphon is the brief snippet of a psalm recited or chanted as a refrain at the beginning and/or end of a psalm or canticle. Antiphons were in use by the 5th century and are still in use during the services of daily prayer. The practice comes from the Jewish tradition of the congregation reciting, chanting, or singing together, the word referring to call-and-response type of singing.
In the Anglican tradition, we are most used to the Greater Antiphons of Advent, what you might hear called the “O Antiphons,” recited during the last seven days of Advent. The resource below includes the Greater Antiphons as well as ones I chose for the first three weeks of Advent. It is available in Spanish and English.
My hope is that the liturgy and ancient prayers will help connect congregants with the sacramental and scriptural experience of Advent in a uniquely Episcopal way. Part of the goal is not just discipleship during the season of Advent but also a sense of Episcopal identity.
The daily antiphons, reflection questions, and liturgy for Advent 2022 can be downloaded and printed through these links. Please credit the author when using.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published on November 25, 2019. It has been revised, updated, and republished for 2022 with the author’s permission.