The Ultimate Advent Playlist

Why are we always rushing through Advent to get to Christmas? Here's a playlist to get us through this season of waiting.

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The other day, as our family was putting up our Christmas tree, I put on some Advent music–as one does, you know, when it’s Advent. 

Instead of the nods of appreciation I expected for my thoughtful and liturgically appropriate selection of seasonal tunage, I was subjected to shouts of protest from my children (9 and 16) who said it was “too depressing” and that it was  “Christmastime, not a funeral.” They insisted on Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (shudder) and Burl Ives’ “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” (admittedly a classic, but still, TOO SOON!). 

I said, “It’s not Christmas yet, it’s Advent!” but even my husband (et tu, Lanny?) replied with a sheepish shrug: “I mean, we are putting up the tree.”

Thus was I overruled in my own home–but I know that you, gentle reader, are much more attuned to the pathos of the season and would never jump over the introspection and uncertainty of waiting for our Lord in favor of a cheap, glitzy celebration devoid of heartfelt longing. Right?

Okay, so maybe I’m laying it on a bit thick. Everyone should, of course, celebrate however most brings them joy. But for those moments when you want to sit in the mystery and longing of Advent, I’ve compiled the ultimate Advent playlist for you!

(Check out the whole thing on YouTube Music.)

1. Comfort, Comfort My People – John Hermanson

Hermanson sets Isaiah 40, a classic Advent text, to beautiful music.

2. Waiting for You – The Many

One of my favorite worship bands captures what it is to long for justice in an unjust world.

3. Restless – Audrey Assad

Audrey Assad puts to music Augustine’s timeless observation: “Our hearts are restless, O God, until they find their rest in You.”

4. Mary Consoles Eve – Rain for Roots

A jangly tune that’s more cheerful than melancholy as Mary lets Eve know it’s all going to be okay–“Almost, not yet, already.”

5. Joseph and Mary (The Cherry Tree Carol) – Elizabeth Mitchell and Natalie Merchant

A moving update of a medieval folk song, this tune tells an imagined miracle of Jesus ministering to Mary and Joseph from Mary’s womb.

6. Justice Delivers Its Death – Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens adds to his richly textured collection of nominally-holiday-themed music with a poignant question about the silver and gold we seek: “How do we measure worth?”

7. Come to Us Lord – Young Oceans

A prayer for the Lord to come as He promised He would.

8. Light Of the World – Lauren Daigle

An up-tempo Christian pop song that sings glory as we wait for the Light of the World to arrive.

9. How Long? – BiFrost Arts

A simple song of lament and hope.

10. Come Thou Long Expected Jesus – Shane & Shane

A contemplative rendition of a classic Advent hymn.

11. The Earth Stood Still – Future of Forestry

“Lonely hearts strewn across the land / They’ve been waiting long for a healing hand / My heart was there and I felt the chill / When love came down and the earth stood still.”

12. I Wait – All Sons & Daughters

A hope-filled anthem that reassures: “The God of love, He will not tarry; no, He is never late.”

  • Katie Langston

    Katie Langston is a doubter by nature and a believer by grace. She grew up Mormon in Cache Valley, Utah, and converted to orthodox (little "o") Christianity after a profound experience of God's grace over a decade ago. Now she works as the director of digital strategy for Faith+Lead and as pastor of mission and outreach at New Promise Lutheran Church in St. George, Utah. Katie is the author of a spiritual memoir called Sealed: An Unexpected Journey into the Heart of Grace.

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Jeff Wallager
1 year ago

Thank you Katie! I appreciate the broad styles and genres you suggested. “Waiting for You” is now at the time of my favorite’s list.

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Joey Goodall
1 year ago

Love this, Katie!