This Sunday marks the third Sunday of Advent (or the sixth, if you’re trying out the Advent Project’s proposed seven-week Advent). And if you’re like my son, what you’re excited about for Sunday is lighting what he calls the “pink candle” (and that I call the “rose candle”).
One of These Things is Not Like the Other: have you ever wondered about that one rose-coloured candle?
This Sunday of Advent is often called “Gaudete Sunday.” For a long time, the introit—the verse from scripture and a portion of a psalm, used as the clergy and servers enter the church for the Eucharist—appointed for this day began with the same text that we’ll hear in the epistle on Sunday: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” (Philippians 4.4) Or, in Latin, “Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete.” From the Latin we get the name, and this Sunday as seen as a lightening of the penitential mood of Advent. (There’s a similar Sunday in Lent: Lent IV is called “Laetare Sunday.”)
Vestments—which had been purple—lightened to rose; flowers, otherwise forbidden, were allowed near the altar; the organ, whose stops had been stopped, was permitted. Many of these traditions have slipped away—few parishes have rose coloured vestments!—but many of us still make sure that one of the candles for each Sunday isn’t like the others. Parishes that mark each Sunday of Advent with particular marks of Christ’s gifts to us (love, joy, hope, peace) will call this third candle the one for joy, and it’s the tradition of Gaudete Sunday that led to that.
May you find joy in your waiting as we long for the one who has come near!
Do you break out rose-coloured vestments this week? Are there any special traditions in your community about the lighting of this candle? We’d love to hear about them!
And here’s the full text of the introit, for those curious:
|Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus enim prope est.Nihil solliciti sitis: sed in omni oratione petitiones vestræ innotescant apud Deum. Benedixisti Domine terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Jacob.|
Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete.
|Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.Let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand;have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.Lord, you have blessed your land; you have turned away the captivity of Jacob.Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.|
– Philippians 4.4-6 and Psalm 85.1