25 Advent Hymns That Hope In Jesus

Snowbird |
November 19, 2021

We’re big fans of Christmas music—especially the hymns that ring with joy at Christ’s long-awaited coming. God designed music to bring people together in a way that encompasses our heart, mind, soul, and emotions simultaneously. He has gifted songwriters with words that bring his character to life in our hearts.

So, let’s get those lyrics right. It matters what words we sing to the King. God reached down from Heaven and visited his creation (as our perfect sacrifice). That truth is too beautiful for us to forget this season.

“…be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” –Ephesians 5:18-21

We’re thankful for these 25 Christmas hymns. They help us give thanks, worship the Messiah, and hope in his eternal glory.

Here’s our list of favorite Advent hymns.

Click each song to listen (and find out why we love them):

  1. See Amid the Winter’s Snow
  2. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
  3. To Us a child of Hope Is Born
  4. Watchman, Tell Us of the Night
  5. Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
  6. Infant Holy, Infant Lowly
  7. Joy to the World
  8. What Child Is This
  9. The First Noel
  10. O Little Town of Bethlehem
  11. Hark the Herald Angels Sing
  12. O Come, O Come Emmanuel
  13. Go Tell It on the Mountain
  14. Comfort, Comfort Now My People
  15. Angels From The Realms of Glory
  16. O Come All Ye Faithful
  17. Angels We Have Heard On High
  18. We Three Kings
  19. O Holy Night
  20. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  21. O Come Divine Messiah
  22. Blest Christmas Morn
  23. Silent Night
  24. Awake My Soul, Awake My Tongue
  25. Once in Royal David’s City

“Basically, there are three elements to family worship: read the Bible, pray, and sing.”

Donald Whitney

Click the songs to get a 30-sec preview right there—and go follow our complete Advent Hymns Playlist on Spotify. We pray they help you remember your hope in Christ and enjoy this Christmas season.


1. See Amid the Winter’s Snow

By Edward Caswall

Christ is born. The one “who built the starry skies” came down to our dirty world in “sweet humility”. The Redeemer has come—let’s join in the joyful celebration this Advent!

See amid the winter’s snow, Born for us on earth below, See the tender Lamb appears, Promised from eternal years. Hail, thou ever-blessed morn! Hail, redemption’s happy dawn!

Sing through all Jerusalem, Christ is born in Bethlehem. Lo, within a manger lies He who built the starry skies; He who throned in height sublime Sits amid the cherubim…”


2. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

By Edmund Sears

So, what came upon a midnight clear? The glorious song of hope, the angels announcing the Advent of our Messiah to shepherds.

“‘Peace on earth, good will to men, From heaven’s all gracious King.’

The world in solemn stillness lay To hear the angels sing.” (see Luke 2:13-14)

Sears, the pastor of a church in Massachusetts, wrote these lyrics in 1849. The world was near the end of the Mexican-American, and some have written he wrote the hymn to remind those around him to look to the joy of Christ’s coming.

“And man, at war with man, hears not The love song which they bring.”

This Christmas, let the noise of strife die around you. If you find yourself “beneath life’s crushing load” and overwhelmed by the toil and heartbreak, then “rest beside the weary road.” Hope is found in Christ alone. From shepherds to kings, Jesus has come to bring peace with God.


3. To Us a Child of Hope is Born

By Michael Bruce and John Morison

“To Us a Child of Hope is Born” was written by Michael Bruce and John Morison in the late 1700s. This hymn is full of the truth spoken in Isaiah 9:6. God gave mankind our greatest gift when he gave up His one and only Son. 


4. Watchman, Tell Us of the Night

By John Bowring

“‘Watchman, Tell Us of the Night’ is a hymn that reminds us to rest in the light of the new day, when it dawned at Jesus’ coming. 

“The song interprets the ‘morning’ in a Messianic sense as the coming of Christ’s new day to bless the earth with peace and truth,” (hymnstudiesblog).


5. Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

By Charles Wesley

Written by Charles Wesley in 1745, “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” was written to highlight the spiritual deliverance Christians receive through Christ. Each line of this hymn speaks of the Savior’s humility and majesty, fulfilling his purpose to save mankind from their sin and bring them into an eternal inheritance.


6. Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

While the exact origin of “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly” is unknown, it is known to be an old Polish carol.  Published in 1908, this Christmas hymn speaks of the baby Jesus lying in a manger and the shepherds on the hillside in this Christmas scene. This piece, recounting Christ’s birth on earth, leads the singer to this final stanza,

“Christ the babe is Lord of all.”


7. Joy to the World

By Isaac Watts

The hymn, “Joy to the World,” was written by Isaac Watts in 1719. The words of this song were taken from the second part of Watt’s paraphrase of Psalm 98, found in his famous collection, The Psalms of David, Imitated in the Language of the New Testament.  Psalm 98:4-9 talks about the Messiah’s coming, His kingdom, and the earth making a joyous noise to the Lord. 

Just as this Psalm points to the expected King of the New Testament, this song reminds us of Christ and the joy he brought into our dark world.  


8. What Child is This

By William Chatterton Dix

The famous Christmas carol “ What Child is This” was originally a poem written by William Chatterton Dix in 1865. The lyrics were later put to the tune of “Greensleeves” and published in 1871. The lyrics are based on Isaiah 9:6-7 and represent the main question the wisemen may have been thinking while traveling to the Nativity of Jesus. The rest of the carol gives the answer: “This, this is Christ the King. Whom shepherds guard and angels sing”.

This song truly reflects the beauty and understanding of who Jesus is: “The King of Kings salvation brings. Let loving hearts enthrone him.”


9. The First Noel

“The First Noel” is a traditional English Christmas carol with an unknown origin. 

This song is a narrative of the events that occurred in the Christmas story. Each stanza speaks of a part of the birth of Christ: the shepherds and angels, the star, the wise men, Bethlehem, and our heart’s response. The writer helps listeners recall this miraculous night and joyfully proclaim the good news of Christ’s birth.


10. O Little Town of Bethlehem

By Philip Brooks

Written in the 1800s, Philip Brooks wrote this Christmas hymn as a visual song for his Sunday school children. This beloved Christmas song creates a good picture of the sleeping town of Bethlehem the night of Jesus’ birth, moving into the meaning of Christmas, and Christ entering into the human heart.


Spotify Playlist | Advent Hymns of Hope

Let’s marvel at God’s grace and sovereignty, and focus on God this Christmas. May we hope in Jesus and join with the angels singing, “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14).


11. Hark The Heral Angels Sing

By Charles Wesley

This popular Christmas song was written by Charles Wesley in the 1730s. Based on the passage of Luke 2:14, “glory to God in the highest” is the key line in this work, praising the Lord for the joy found in the good news of our Savior’s birth.


12. O Come, O Come Emmanuel

“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is one of the oldest Christmas songs still sung today—traced back to the 12th century. 

“This is a Christmas song that for me is a bridge to all the rest of the story that the Gospels give us, where we go from the wooden manger to the wooden cross and then the empty tomb and then Christ’s ascension and the anticipation of His return.”  – Trevin Wax


13. Go Tell It on the Mountain

ByJohn Wesley Work Jr.

“Go Tell it on The Mountain” has a rich musical history behind it. Although we think of this song as a Christmas carol, it was initially considered a “spiritual song”. It was compiled by John Wesley Work Jr. in 1865 but sung much earlier than that. Most spiritual songs we know today come from slaves and were passed down orally, hardly ever written down. This makes knowing the exact origin date of the song difficult. The lyrics in this piece come from the task given by the angels to the shepherds on the first Christmas in Bethlehem; to share the hope we have gained by the birth of our Savior. This spiritual should inspire us to share the everlasting hope we have in Christ everywhere we go.

“Go, tell it on the mountain.

Over the hills and everywhere.

Go, tell it on the mountain.

That Jesus Christ is born.”


14. Comfort, Comfort Now My People

This hymn reminds us that we can only find true comfort in the Lord.  The hymnist quotes from Isaiah 40 throughout this piece, reflecting on the gentle words of the Lord to Jerusalem, the peace gifted to us from God, and the boundless amount of grace given to cover our sins. 

“This song reminds us that there are no places too low or too high for God’s comfort to not only reach, but make sure and steady.” – Brittany Ford


15. Angels From The Realms of Glory

By James Montgomery

The Scottish poet first published this hymn in 1816. We love this lesser-known hymn because the writer points us all to hope in the infant King (shepherds, sages, saints, and sinners):

Though an infant now we view him,

He shall fill his Father’s throne,

Gather all the nations to him;

Every knee shall then bow down…”

Christ came to call his people to repentance and new life. Join with us and receive Christ with the longing of the saints and the true repentance of sinners. And, may we work joyfully for the day when people from every nation and tribe will bow in worship to Jesus (Revelation 7:9-11).


16. O Come All Ye Faithful

ByJohn Francis Wade

“O Come All Ye Faithful,” written by John Francis Wade, originally came from the Latin hymn “Adestle Fidelis.” The lyrics you hear today have been adopted and translated by Frederick Oakeley. This hymn references the shepherds coming to Bethlehem to adore their newborn Savior. Today, we gather as Christians to celebrate and adore Jesus for the blessings brought to us by the sacrifice He made for us on the cross.

“O come, let us adore Him Christ the Lord.”


17. Angels We Have Heard on High

By James Chadwick (English paraphrase)

Glory to God in the highest. “Gloria in excelsis Deo!”

This is the message the hymn trumpets, by re-telling the story of the angels arriving with news for the shepherds. (Luke 2:14)

…one of the most joyful and well-written choruses ever composed. The lyrical journey shines a light on the reality of incarnation in a way that refreshes the soul each time you sing it.” – Keith Getty

Let’s join Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the very mountains—to worship our glorious King.


Spotify Playlist | Advent Hymns of Hope

Let’s marvel at God’s grace and sovereignty, and focus on God this Christmas. May we hope in Jesus and join with the angels singing, “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14).


18. We Three Kings

By John Henry Hopkins, Jr.

This popular Advent hymn is a beautiful picture of the earthly kings’ worship of the one true King. Listen as the kings of the orient introduce themselves, share their story, acknowledge Jesus’s kingship, give their gifts, prophesy the cross, and worship him as “King and God and Sacrifice.”

“Gold…King forever, ceasing never, Over us all to reign”

“Frankincense…deity nigh”

“Myrrh…gathering gloom…bleeding, dying, Sealed in the stone-cold tomb”

“Glorious now behold Him arise: King and God and Sacrifice…”


19. O Holy Night

By Placide Cappeau

“O Holy Night” was originally written in 1834 by the poet, Placide Cappeau. This song speaks of the night Christ was born, pointing us to worship Him by reflecting on his identity and the sacrifice He made to enable our relationship with the Father.

Fall on your knees! O hear the angel’s voices! O night divine, O night when Christ was born.”

When listening to this carol, clear your mind of everything else and focus on who made that night holy and divine.


20. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

This minor-sounding Christmas song has been sung since the 15th century.  The language in the Middle Ages translated the word, “merry” to great and mighty, and the word “rest” to keep or make.  The title, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” can really be translated to “God make you mighty, gentlemen.” 

“It’s a carol about the high spiritual stakes of Christmas — after all, if not for the birth of Jesus, humanity would be lost.” – Emma Green


21. O Come Divine Messiah

By M. l’abbé Pellegrin

Consider was it like for the Jews to maintain hope and await the Messiah—especially during those 400 years of silence. What if we were living in that age right now, waiting for the “fullness of time” to come? (Galatians 4:4, Ephesians 1:10)

Pellegrin wants us to dwell on those questions this Christmas. Think of the rich, desperate prayers we would pray—if the Messiah had not yet arrived!

Here are a few lines you should pray over this Advent season:

“O come, divine Messiah!

The world in silence waits the day

When hope shall sing its triumph

And sadness flee away

O Christ, whom nations sigh for

Whom priest and prophet long foretold

Come break the captive fetters

Redeem the long-lost fold…”


22. Blest Christmas Morn

By Mary Baker Eddy

This was all God’s idea. The manger, the flight to Egypt, the Cross, and the Resurrection—they were authored by Jesus himself. The trinitarian God set eternity on a path that completely humbled himself — but would crush Satan and the power of sin (Philippians 2:4-11).

Thou God-idea, Life encrowned, The Bethlehem babe – Beloved, replete, by flesh embound – Was but thy shade!”

Thou gentle beam of living Love, And deathless Life! Truth infinite, so far above All mortal strife, Or cruel creed, or earthborn taint; Fill us today With all thou art – be thou our saint, Our stay, alway”

Jesus arrived to no royal welcoming committee. He was born into a poor carpenter’s family, to parents under scrutiny, and was hunted as an insurrectionist-heretic from birth. Everyone from Herod to the Jewish leaders wanted Jesus to die.

His infinite truth and gentle love rose above any attacks the world waged against him. He is our cornerstone, “our stay” always. This “gentle beam” has broken through the darkness to give us new life in him!


23. Silent Night

By Joseph Mohr

This popular carol was originally written in German by Joseph Mohr, and has been translated into what we sing today. During the time this was written, the Napoleonic War had just finished and the country was trying to recover. Mohr showed the source of peace and hope for Europe. Just as those in history felt peace when gathering to sing this song, we too should be reminded of the peace found in the birth of God’s Son — who brings us redeeming grace and salvation.

“Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia, Christ the Savior is born!”


24. Awake My Soul, Awake My Tongue

By Page CXVI

“Awake my soul. Awake my tongue. My glory wake and sing To celebrate the holy birth of Israel’s King”

May our souls be awake this Christmas. Let’s plead in prayer for the Christ child who “brought forth light”, to wake our souls so that our tongues may sing his praises!

“O happy this night that brought forth light, Which makes the blind to see, The Dayspring from on high came down to thee”

Jesus, the Light of the world, is One who heals the blind and the One who gives new life to dead souls.

The line “Awake my soul, awake my tongue! My God demands the grateful song.” was first written by Anne Steele for a hymn in 1719 in A Collection of Psalms and Hymns for Publick Worship #LI. Do a little research on her story if you’re interested. She was a pastor’s daughter who suffered terrible tragedy and responded by writing beautiful poems of thankfulness to the Father.


25. Once in Royal David’s City

By Cecil Frances Alexander

This Irish Christmas hymn was written by Cecil Alexander for her children to sing in the 1800s.  Despite not being the most popular, this song is rich in theological doctrine, demonstrating Jesus’ humanity and deity.

“The poet explores the paradox that this ‘child, so dear and gentle’ is actually the ‘Lord in heaven’ who ‘leads his children to the place where he has gone.'” – UMC Discipleship Ministries


Sing The Hope of Jesus this Christmas

Read, pray, and sing the words of Scripture this season. December is a month of celebration. Sing joyful praises to our King—the God who humbled himself to become man and redeem us. We hope these songs help you focus on Christ, block out the distractions, and rest more deeply in the hope found only in him.

Free Advent Bible Study (2021)

Let’s stand back and marvel at God’s grace and sovereignty, and focus on God this Christmas. May we join with the angels singing, “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14).

Join this 25-day Advent journey as we worship Christ and celebrate his coming.

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