The first reading for the Second Sunday of Advent, Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11, is so rich. There are many beautiful Advent hymns based on these few passages that I want to share with you. I'll begin with "Comfort, Comfort, O My People," based on the first half of the reading. The passage is from Second Isaiah, the Book of Consolation, and it was written at a time with the people of Israel needed comfort and hope while nearing the end of their exile in Babylon. The Lord knew of their suffering and sorrow and spoke a word of encouragement and promise.
When I was in our diocesan choir we would sing this hymn at Advent Lessons and Carols after the passage from Isaiah was read. I remember the lector that was chosen to read this passage had a strong and dramatic voice and would make this prophesy truly come alive. It is joyful prophesy and it is reflected in the joyful tone of the hymn. It is a hymn of hope, and in today's world we need hope and a word of comfort from our God, who promised to be with us always.