Archive E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene Reformed Irenicism

“Sing Unto the Lord a New Song”: The Canticle and Festival Prayer for Advent

The predecessor of the Order of Worship for the Reformed Church in the United States, the Liturgy, or, Order of Christian Worship (1858), which I have discussed previously (e.g. here), includes a section of “Prayers for the Festival Seasons,” the material of which is (at least, mostly) included in the later Order but distributed in a different way. As set out in the Liturgy, each festival season has a Canticle followed by a prayer or prayers.1 

The “Festival Seasons” in the Liturgy, by the way, are: Advent, Christmas, New Year, Good Friday, Easter Day, Ascension Day, Whitsunday (Pentecost), and Trinity Sunday.

Below is the material for Advent, along with the instructions given, slightly modified. It reminds us that Christ has come in humility, and he will come again in glory, and death shall be no more, for it “shall be swallowed up in victory.” In the meantime, we should prepare ourselves for that day with a life repentance.

The Canticle and Prayer are in essence a catena of Scripture from the Old and New Testaments. They repay attention.

Prayers for the Festival Seasons.

[The Festival Prayers shall take the place of the General Petition preceding the Sermon in the ordinary service of the Lord’s Day–the Canticle being said or sung, instead of the Invocation.]



SING unto the Lord a new song; and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein. Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice; let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the tops of the mountains. Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare His praise among the heathen.

The Lord hath comforted His people; He hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all nations: and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

Say to the daughter of Zion, behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee. Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings!

The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it. Death shall be swallowed up in victory, and God will wipe away all tears from our eyes. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.

Sanctify and prepare yourselves to look upon the glory of our God; for the Lord cometh. Prepare ye the way of the Lord and make His paths straight; let us serve Him with gladness, and come before His presence with singing! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end! Amen.

[Instead of this Canticle, or together with it, the Benedictus, or the Magnificat, may be used.]


ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who by the mouths of Thy prophets and holy men of old, didst proclaim the Advent of Thy Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Desire of all nations, the Hope of Israel, the Redeemer of the world; aid us, we beseech Thee, at this time, to repent heartily and truly of all our sins, and so to humble ourselves that we may be prepared to receive Him with gladness and join in the cry: Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord!

Arise, O Sun of Righteousness, with healing in Thy wings, that the nations which sit in darkness and in the shadow of death may behold Thy light, that all flesh may see the salvation of our God. O Thou true light, which lightest every man that cometh into the world; shine into our hearts and give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, that beholding Thy glory, we may be changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Grant us grace, we beseech Thee, to pass the time of our sojourning here in fear, in daily watchfulness and prayer, ever looking forward, and hasting unto the day of Thy second coming, when Thou shalt appear again in the clouds of heaven with all Thy holy angels, to be admired of all them that believe, and dreaded by all them who have not obeyed Thy gospel; so that when Thou dost come in the glory of Thy power, we may be able with all saints to lift up our heads with joy as we behold the fulness of our redemption drawing nigh.

Hear us, O Thou eternal Son of the Father, to whom, with Thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.

  1. The reader will notice that some of the Festival Prayer below was reused in the prayer I recently transcribed.

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.