The majority of world is confused thinking it’s Christmas already, but we’re still in the season of Advent. In fact, we just started.
While it’s not the same penitential season as lent, Advent provides a great opportunity for prayer, fasting, and preparation. In today’s world, it take a lot of effort and intention to prepare fully before the full season of Christmas begins on December 25th.
The Brilliance continues their music on the liturgical calendar with the release of Advent Volume II. Since I didn’t discover this band until this past Lent, I will review both Volume I and II.
Since I started following the band on social media, I’ve been excited for this release for a few months when I heard they were finishing the recordings. The Brilliance produces some of the best contemporary Christian music today with their balance and combination of strings, piano, and rock. Then you add the brilliant lyrics, and I must admit that they have become one of my favorite bands.
There aren’t many definitive guidelines about music for the season of Advent should be other than we prepare with joy without celebrating as if it’s already Christmas. Advent Volume I does a terrific job of showing the longing and desire for our savior without the celebration of the coming season. The song “Christmastide”, number 2 on Vol. I, is the only song that is in the wrong season, but the name of the song does mean Christmas season, so that one is obvious.
Like the Lent EP, Vol. I and Vol. II both have a song about Mary. On Advent Vol. I, “Mother of God” is based off a part of the Hail Mary, and Advent Vol. II, “Mary’s Lullaby” is a really beautiful song from her perspective as she treasures all these things and ponders them in her heart. Brilliant and beautiful enough to make you cry. None of the songs touch my heart as much as these.
There are several song that focus on the theme of light, and I believe this is the key the beauty of these songs. They drip with symbolism. Every song focuses on the desire from the depths of our souls as we await our king.
Half of Advent Volume II really is more in Christmas than Advent with songs like “Yule Carol”, “Christ the Lord is Born”, and “Joy to the World.” One of the best songs, “God in Flesh Our Hope Divine” accurately echoes the ideas of the Jesse Tree and the real spirit of Advent. This song does end with a preview of Gloria in Excelsis Deo, but it’s a great model of how Advent naturally leads us to Christmas.
Listening to both of these EPs is a true joy. A piano, a string quartet, bells, and other instruments make a beautiful combination with rich, dynamic variance. My favorite part about this album is how it incorporates delicate, subtle styles that are familiar to the preparation of Christmas without it being the dominant sound.
The music of these EPs brings a new meaning of rejoicing the spirit of the season of Advent.
Unlike the Lent EP that ends most phrases in unresolved minor notes, the Advent EPs have more spring in the step and are just outright merrier. The combination of solo and chorus voices is also very reminiscent of carolers. They feel very appropriate for the time, but more noteably speak to the depths of my heart.
This collection of music is not haphazardly assembled in hopes of finding a common theme. Both Advent EPs tell the collective narrative of a people waiting for the return of their savior.
I know they’re not Catholic, but I still firmly believe that our contemporary musicians have a lot to learn from their musicality, and even more so from the courage of their bold lyrics and themes.
I personally believe that The Brilliance’s success as a band is in that they create art that is more concerned with spirituality than entertainment. I cannot wait for the release of their Easter and Pentecost projects to be released. You can find Advent Volume I and Volume II on iTunes and Amazon.
Hold of celebrating the season of Christmas with Christmas music until Christmas day. There’s plenty of great Advent music in the mean time.
While others start to put up their trees at the end of the month, we will keep on singing out Christmas music until the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord a few weeks after. I understand it’s difficult to avoid, but Advent has plenty to offer us in preparation of this beautiful season.