Sing just the first verse on Advent Sunday, and add a verse on each of the Sundays during Advent.

Light a candle for Jesus the King.
Lift up your voice today and joyfully sing.
He'll come in majesty, salvation to bring:
he'll come for everyone, so welcome him,
watch for him,
wait for him.
Light a candle for Jesus the King.
Joyfully sing.

Light a candle for hearing God's word.
The prophets shout and sing of freedom conferred.
Good news for those in pain:
your cries have been heard.
Good news for everyone: let spirits be stirred,
sight be unblurred,
justice be spurred.
Light a candle for hearing God's word.
Freedom conferred.

Light a candle for starting anew.
Repent and turn again and give God his due.
Made one in baptism: John's witness is true;
made one with everyone: God washes us through,
Gentile and Jew,
me and you.
Light a candle for starting anew.
Give God his due.

Light a candle for doing God's will.
As Mary trusted God, come trust in him still.
Her song's for hungry ones God's promised to fill;
her song's for everyone, God's truth to instil,
purpose fulfil -
peace and goodwill.
Light a candle for doing God's will.
Trust in him still.

On Christmas Day, this two-verse version may be used.

Advent candles, all four alight:
their flames that speak of hope
now burning bright.
A sign for those who've tried to follow aright;
a sign for everyone: God's giving back sight,
banishing night,
bringing delight.
Advent candles, all four alight,
burning bright.

Light a candle for Christmas Day.
We welcome you, Christ Jesus,
with us to stay.
You're born in Bethlehem,
the angels now say;
you're born for everyone, our debt to repay.
Teach us to pray,
help us obey.
Light a candle for Christmas Day.
With us to stay.

Words: © Dominic Grant, November 2014
Tune: Carol of the Drum ('The Little Drummer Boy') (see below)

Ideas for use

Carol of the Drum, as performed by the Trapp Family Singers

Though the tune for this carol is familiar to many, it will be worth taking some preparation time to ensure that you know how the words fit to the melody in each verse. You can listen to various versions of the original tune on YouTube, including the first recording, by the Trapp Family Singers in 1955. Sheet music can be bought and downloaded from e.g. and
More information

Dominic’s candle lighting hymn follows a familiar pattern of week by week verses that speak of God’s people; the Hebrew prophets; John the Baptist; and Mary, the mother of Jesus. However, rather than simply quote or re-tell familiar biblical texts, here Dominic also takes time to explore their implications, using the short rhyming couplets toward the end of each verse to provide pithy aide-memoires for us to hold on to:

    • watch for him, wait for him
    • sight be unblurred, justice be spurred
    • Gentile and Jew, me and you
    • purpose fulfil – peace and goodwill

In addition, Dominic offers two verses to be sung on Christmas Day, one that focuses on the hope expressed in the four Advent candles, and a second verse, which welcomes the Christ Jesus to the world and reminds us of our task: to pray and obey, inspired by Jesus’ life on earth.

Katherine Kennicott Davis, composer of The Drum Carol

‘Carol of the Drum’ (nowadays known usually as ‘The Little Drummer Boy’) was written by Katherine K. Davis in 1941. Katherine Davis (1892 – 1980) was an American music teacher and prolific composer, especially of choral works. ‘Carol of the Drum’ was recorded in 1955 by the Trapp Family Singers and further popularized by a 1958 recording by the Harry Simeone Chorale. It has been recorded many times since.

The Revd Dominic Grant is a minister in the United Reformed Church, currently serving in Wimbledon. Previously he has served with a united Methodist/URC local ecumenical partnership. Two of his hymns were published in Singing the Faith, and others have been published since on StF+. In recent years, Dominic has written a new candle lighting hymn each Advent, including Candles we light upon the Advent Ring.

Explore Dominic’s hymns here.