Advent candles at St. Augustine's; some notes on the ceremonies.

The ceremony.

The Advent Candle ceremony is built around the Advent Wreath. This is made up of a horizontal circle of evergreen leaves on a wire frame incorporating four candle holders, with a fifth candle holder in the centre. Ours is about 35cm in diameter.

The four outer candles represent HOPE, PEACE, JOY and LOVE; the centre candle ( commonly called the Christ candle ) represents JESUS, THE BABY BORN IN BETHLEHEM.

Why we invented our own.

The ceremony was introduced into the morning service at St Augustine's church several years ago. It was presented as a very simple sequence, with a brief preamble, the candle-lighting itself, and a short prayer. It was well received by the congregation.

Then the regular leader of our services left the area, and when Advent came round again it became clear that the Advent Candle service had gone with him. It was agreed that the ceremony should continue; it was also agreed ( by some ) that the vanishing of the form of service gave us an opportunity to change, and that this was not necessarily a bad thing.

An internet search for "Advent Candles" was quite fruitful. We inspected a number of services, but none quite fitted our notion of what we wanted. Some were specific to other denominations, some too elaborate, some too long, and so on. We gleaned ideas from several, which gave us a good idea of what we thought would be appropriate for the context of our service ( Mattins or Holy Communion from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer ), and finally decided to compose our own.


One does not propose new forms of service to God without consulting God. The form we have chosen was arrived at only after much prayer and consideration, and our first acknowledgment must be to God.

We have gained much from our inspection of other forms of service. I haven't kept records of all those we considered, but two emerged as particularly significant, and fragments of them are discernible in the service. These two are :
the Kir-Shalom ministry, and
the Lost Creek Presbyterian Church of McAlisterville, Pennsylvania.
We gladly acknowledge these influences.


As our service developed, we were drawn to a regular structure. This is repeated, though not slavishly, in each week of Advent, and - with rather more variation - in the Christmas ceremony, which we use on Christmas Day rather than Christmas Eve. The structure is :

  • Review the candles so far; name the gift symbolised by the new one.
  • "We light this candle to remind us ..." of a link between the new gift and Jesus.
  • Light the candle.
  • Prayer :
    • Thank God for the gift;
    • Pray that the gift may be manifested in us through Jesus;
    • Ask for help to "prepare our hearts" to receive the gift;
    • "We ask in the name of the One born in Bethlehem. Amen.".

Alan Creak,
2008 March.