The Third Sunday of Advent — 17 December 2023 — Gaudete Sunday


John preaching in the Wilderness — Life of Jesus Mafa Project.

Life of Jesus Mafa was an initiative in the 1970s to help teach the gospel in Northern Cameroon. François Vidil worked with Mafa Christian communities to create about 70 paintings depicting the life of Jesus as an African. Selected readings were adapted to dramatic interpretation by the community members. Photographs of their interpretations were then transcribed to paintings.

O Sapientia

O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other mightily,
and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.
(cf. Ecclesiasticus 24.3; Wisdom 8.1)

Arvo Pärt. Seiben Magnificat-Antiphonen (1988 / 1991). Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, dir Tönu Kaljuste.
1. "O Weisheit, hervorgegangen aus dem Munde des Höchsten, die Welt umspannst du von einem Ende zum andern, in Kraft und Milde ordnest du alles: O komm und offenbare uns den Weg der Weisheit und der Einsicht."

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

1 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
4 They shall build up the ancient ruins,
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.

8 For I the Lord love justice,
I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.

Psalm 126

1 When the Lord turned again the fortunes of Zion:
   then were we like those restored to life.
2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter:
   and our tongue with singing.
3 Then said they among the heathen:
   'The Lord has done great things for them.'
4 Truly the Lord has done great things for us:
   and therefore we rejoiced.
5 Turn again our fortunes, O Lord:
   as the streams return to the dry south.
6 Those who sow in tears:
   shall reap with songs of joy.
7 They that go out weeping, bearing the seed:
   shall come again in gladness, bringing their sheaves with them.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labour among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.

May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

Beloved, pray for us.

Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss.I solemnly command you by the Lord that this letter be read to all of them.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

John 1:6-8, 19-28

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ He said, ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord”’, as the prophet Isaiah said.

Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.They asked him, ‘Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?’John answered them, ‘I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know,the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.’This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

Patrick Kavanagh (Ireland, 1904–1967)

We have tested and tasted too much, lover—
Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder.
But here in the Advent-darkened room
Where the dry black bread and the sugarless tea
Of penance will charm back the luxury
Of a child's soul, we'll return to Doom
The knowledge we stole but could not use.

And the newness that was in every stale thing
When we looked at it as children: the spirit-shocking
Wonder in a black slanting Ulster hill
Or the prophetic astonishment in the tedious talking
Of an old fool will awake for us and bring
You and me to the yard gate to watch the whins
And the bog-holes, cart-tracks, old stables where Time begins.

O after Christmas we'll have no need to go searching
For the difference that sets an old phrase burning—
We'll hear it in the whispered argument of a churning
Or in the streets where the village boys are lurching.
And we'll hear it among decent men too
Who barrow dung in gardens under trees,
Wherever life pours ordinary plenty.
Won't we be rich, my love and I, and
God we shall not ask for reason's payment,
The why of heart-breaking strangeness in dreeping hedges
Nor analyse God's breath in common statement.
We have thrown into the dust-bin the clay-minted wages
Of pleasure, knowledge and the conscious hour——
And Christ comes with a January flower.


Collect from the Book of Common Prayer 1662 for the Third Sunday of Advent.

O Lord Jesus Christ, who at your first coming did send your messenger to prepare your way before you: Grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready your way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in your sight, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Gaudete, arranged by Michael Engelhardt, performed by The University of Mississippi Men's Glee, cond. Donald Trott; Chance Ragsdale and Andrew Ross, soloists.

Gaudete, Gaudete! Christus et natus, ex maria virgine. Gaudete!
Rejoice, Rejoice! Christ is born of the virgin Mary. Rejoice!

Introit for the Third Sunday of Advent from the Graduale Parvum of the John Henry Newman Institute of Liturgical Music. Chant by Rev Guy Nicholls of The Oratory of Saint Philip Neri.