It’s everybody’s go-to chant for Advent: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

It’s a classic, sober piece of music, and it’s one everyone knows. We should all sing it — but not yet!

I know a few liturgists who will tell you that it shouldn’t be sung until we begin the “O Antiphons,” on December 17. That strikes me as sound and sensible. And let’s face it: a little “Emmanuel” goes a long way.  (As my father-in-law complained a few years ago. “It seems like that is all we ever sing,” he grumbled. “It’s so awful and depressing. Can’t we sing something happy?”)

Well, there are other options. Lots of them.

At my parish this weekend, the entrance hymn is “O Come, Divine Messiah,” an anthem of joyful hope.

Want more? The Catholic Review in Baltimore had some selections a couple years back. Check it out.

We are entering a season of great expectations — time spent watching, waiting, wondering. Our musical tradition offers us a treasury of beautiful and singable choices to accompany us before the Christmas carols come galloping in. Let’s cherish the hymns of Advent while we can!