Antiphons for Advent

Antiphons for Advent

25 short devotionals created from antiphons and a short family service for lighting the Advent candles at home.

Advent packs so many rich symbols into a few short weeks, and 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, found here, includes lighting the candle(s). The leader reads the antiphon verse aloud and a reflection prompt, 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 of 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 c 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 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 7 days of Advent. The attached document includes the Greater Antiphons as well as ones I chose for the first 3 weeks of Advent.

My hope is that the short liturgy and learning these ancient prayers helps 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 and reflection questions are ready to be printed out. Also included is a brief order for lighting Advent wreath candles. Please credit the author when using.

The Rev. Dr. Patricia M. Lyons teaches and serves as Senior Advisor to the Dean for Evangelism Initiatives at Virginia Theological Seminary. She is a member of the Presiding Bishop’s cabint on evangelism and the working group for the Way of Love curricular and support resources. She is also the Hogwarts Chaplain; follow her on Facebook

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