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Prayers around the Advent wreath

First slide

The first Sunday of Advent this year is Dec. 1, so families are likely digging through boxes to pull out the wreath and the three purple and one pink candles to see if they can get one more year out of them.

Here’s a primer to dust off those wreaths and some prayers to make the tradition even more meaningful.

Prayers: Short and sweet

On the first Sunday of Advent, or the evening before, gather family and friends and place the candles in the wreath. If you prefer prayers specific to each Sunday in Advent, Ignatius Press suggests:

First Week

All-powerful God, increase our strength of will for doing good that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven, where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God, forever and ever.



Second Week

God of power and mercy, open our hearts in welcome. Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy so that we may share his wisdom and become one with him when he comes in glory, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.



Third Week

Lord God, may we, your people, who look forward to the birthday of Christ experience the joy of salvation and celebrate that feast with love and thanksgiving. We ask this through Christ our Lord.



Fourth Week

Father, all-powerful God, your eternal Word took flesh on our earth when the Virgin Mary placed her life at the service of your plan. Lift our minds in watchful hope to hear the voice which announces his glory and open our minds to receive the Spirit who prepares us for his coming. We ask this through Christ our Lord.



Prayers: Longform

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has done the leg work for you on longer-form prayers taken from the book, “ Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers.”


The leader says:

Our help is in the name of the Lord.

All respond: Who made heaven and earth.


Here you have a choice of Scripture: Isaiah 9: (lines 1-2 and 5-6) or Isaiah 63 (lines 16-17 and 19) or Isaiah 64  (lines 2-7). Below is Isaiah, Chapter 9:


Leader: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;

Upon those who lived in a land of gloom a light has shone.

You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing;

They rejoice before you as people rejoice at harvest,

as they exult when dividing the spoils.

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests.

They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.

His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, upon David’s throne, and over his kingdom,

which he confirms and sustains

By judgment and justice, both now and forever. 


The Word of the Lord.
All respond: Thanks be to God.


With hands joined, the leader says:

Lord our God,
we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ:
he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples,
he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us,
he is the Savior of every nation.
Lord God,
let your blessing come upon us
as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light
be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation.
May he come quickly and not delay.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
All respond: Amen.


The blessing may conclude with a verse from
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”:

O come, desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of humankind;
bid ev’ry sad division cease
and be thyself our Prince of peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.



The sequence of the candles is to light the first purple candle the first weekend of Advent, move clockwise and light a second purple candle on the second week, and then the third week, Gaudete Sunday, the pink candle is lit. The last purple candle is lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019