Choral Compositions Suitable for Advent


Compiled by Dr. Robert C. Mann
Resource Library Director

The purpose of this communication is to offer assistance in selecting anthems for worship during the Advent season beginning November 30, 2014. Use texts appropriate to Advent only, and if the process is not familiar, this list will be helpful. It’s not too soon to begin planning. Listed below are two possibilities for selecting Advent anthems: anthems available on the online source, CPDL; and a list of texts for which you will have musical settings in your own choral library.

I have searched the CPDL website ( and compiled a list of SATB Advent anthems. Several of the anthems are within reach of most choirs, but some will not be usable by choirs with limited resources. CPDL just does not have anthems suitable for groups of limited resources. Please look at each anthem to determine if it is within the ability of your choir to sing. Don’t assume they are all too difficult without examining them.

If you are not familiar with CPDL, you may download any composition without charge and make unlimited copies for your choir. Most of the anthems listed below have English texts, but a few have traditional Latin texts, for example, Magnificat and Benedictus. CPDL anthems can be searched by title, composer, and number.

(If you wish to see all Advent anthems listed on the CPDL website, enter ADVENT in the CPDL search box. Your result will bring up many anthems. The majority of these anthems do not have texts in English, however, and I have chosen not to include them. )

The list below includes two Introits, both by contemporary composers. Anthems are primarily by 19th-century composers, or earlier, and may be considered “classic” settings of these texts.

Don’t stop reading this if you think your choir won’t be able to sing any of this music. After the CPDL compositions, I have submitted titles of appropriate Advent texts for which you will have settings in your own choral library.

CPDL ANTHEMS [Title, Composer, Voicing, Accompaniment, Text/Sunday in Advent, CPDL #]
Advent Sentence Toby Wardman SATB Accompaniment Introit Isaiah 40:5 #05045

Let the Clouds Rain Down (2006) Charles H. Giffen SATB a Cappella Introit 4th Sunday #13137

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence Gustav Holst SATB Soli S, B Accompaniment #24949

A Tender Shoot Otto Goldschmidt SATB a Cappella #10526

How Lovely are the Messengers (Saint Paul) Felix Mendelssohn SATB Organ Romans 10:15, 18 #21148

The Angel Gabriel Basque Carol arr. Rod Mather SATB Accompaniment #Use title

There Is No Rose Douglas Brooks-Davies SATB A Cappella #07003

Virga Jesse floruit (Latin text) Anton Bruckner SATB A Cappella #00077

This is the Record of John Orlando Gibbons SAATB Organ John 1:19-23 #18209

O Thou the Central Orb Charles Wood SATB Organ #01951

Creator of the Stars of Night Charles H. Giffen SATB A Cappella English/Latin #10056

Benedictus in B-flat, Op.10, No.3 Charles Villiers Stanford SATB Organ Luke 1:68-79 #Use title

Rejoice in the Lord, Alway Henry Purcell SATB Soli ATB Phil. 4:4-7 #03622

Magnificat in G Major Op.81 Charles Villiers Stanford SATB Soprano Solo Organ Luke 1:46-55 #06952

Magnificat in B-flat Op.10 Charles Villiers Stanford SATB Organ #18239

Magnificat in C Op.115 Charles Villiers Stanford SATB Organ #18240
The following texts are appropriate for Sundays in Advent. Check the Lectionary or eLibrary for specific Sundays they should be used. Search your own choral library to see what settings of these texts your choir sings. Search the database of the eLibrary for information relating to the texts and musical settings of your own compositions and settings by other composers.

Any setting of Ave Maria

Any setting of the Benedictus

Any setting of the Magnificat

Any setting of Adam lay ybounden

Any setting of A Spotless Rose

And the Glory of the Lord (Messiah) Handel

Any setting of Cherry Tree Carol

Any setting of Creator of the Stars of Night

E’en So Lord Jesus, Quickly Come (Manz )

Any setting of Gabriel’s Message (The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came)

Any setting of Lift Up Your Heads (Messiah or other)

Any setting of Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Any setting of Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming

Any setting of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Any setting of O Lord, How Shall I Meet You

Any setting of Pour Down, O Heavens, From Above (Rorate Caeli)

Any setting of Prepare the Way, O Zion

Any setting of Savior of the Nations, Come

Any setting of There Is No Rose Of Such Virtue


Plus settings of Hymns from the Advent Section of any Hymnal