Advent to Christmas – Noel Rawsthorne (1929-2019)

This article first appeared in the December 2019 issues of our parish magazine.

I discovered this anthem whilst browsing in the Sing for Pleasure shop at Summer School 2018. It appealed immediately, and I knew that, with encouragement, Maggie’s Music Makers would be able to make a good job of it. And they did – at the 2018 Christmas Carol Service as well as after communion during a December 2019 Sunday service at St Margaret’s.

The five verses progressively explore the theme of Advent, gradually merging into Christmas by the end. Between verses there are interludes of Carols, both for Advent and Christmas, beginning with “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and finishing with “The First Noel”. Between the verses are “Past 3 O’Clock”, “In the Bleak Mid-Winter”, “Away in a Manger” and “We Three Kings”:

  • Low today the Advent sun tells us that the day is done.
  • Hoar from glistens in the trees, sparkles on the holly leaves.
  • Advent voices soft and clear sing that Christmas time is near.


  • Advent candles in a ring flicker as our voices sing.
  • Mary still has far to go, donkey trotting through the snow.
  • Here we wait on wintry earth longing for a baby’s birth.


  • Holly, ivy, mistletoe, candles on the fir tree glow.
  • Every year we do the same, all because Christ Jesus came,
  • In a stable dark and bare, few to honour, love and care.


  • Shepherds from the frosty night, wise men with a star for light.
  • In the dark time of the year Jesus Christ our light is here.
  • Infant saviour of the world, sleeping in a manger curled.


  • As we count the Advent days, in our hearts our God we praise,
  • Use the carols which we sing to remind us of our King.
  • Born to reign in Bethlehem, come Lord Jesus, come again.

There have been challenges – of course – but once again your parish singing group has nailed it and hopes to sing this anthem at some point during Advent.


Carol P

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