St Bartholomew and All Saints

Royal Wootton Bassett


Our Advent wreath has three purple candles (for repentance),

one pink, and one white for Christmas Day.

The pink candle is for Gaudete (Joy) Sunday:

rose-coloured vestments are worn for a bit of light relief

from all that purple. It is also known as ‘Rose Sunday’.

For Christians who observe the liturgical calendar, Advent is the Church Season before Christmas. For Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and other Protestant denominations the observance of the Advent Season occurs over the four Sundays before Christmas. 

Our English word Advent comes from the Latin word ‘Adventus’, which means arrival. In the Latin Vulgate of Jerome, this was the word used to translate the Greek word Parousia, which in the New Testament refers to the Second Coming of Christ.

So in Advent we take time to wait and reflect on two Advents. The first Advent is the Nativity, the birth of Christ and the subsequent Christmas celebrations and the joy that’s brings us. We also focus our eyes on the Second Coming the time when Christ will return. As we know neither the time when our own lives will end, or when Jesus will return, we should always be prepared for these events.

Advent used to be known as a ‘Little Lent’ or St. Martin’s Lent as early as the fifth century. Like Lent we use the colour purple to express repentance. You may visit the cathedral and see blue altar frontals, this is from the old

English ‘Sarum rite’; the time before uniformity was fashionable; our diocese had its own idea of seasonal colouring and blue was its colour of repentance.

A now departed Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London in 1995, a few days before Advent asked a chorister ‘Who are we waiting for in Advent’. The chorister brightly spoke up ‘The Queen Mother, sir’! It is true that we often did wait for the Queen Mum to arrive. The Dean was torn between being an ardent Royalist and being a priest - but he knew he had some explaining to do.

Advent has historically been a time for reflection and prayer to prepare for the Messiah’s birth in Bethlehem. It is his coming into the world that will save us from our sins once his death and resurrection are accomplished. The scriptures tell us that Jesus has promised to return (John 14: 1-3), ‘to judge the living and the dead’, and ‘whose kingdom shall have no end’.  Let us therefore prepare for this coming celebration by readying our hearts and lives for him.

Advent is the official start of the church’s yearly calendar. In Advent it can be a struggle to remain focused on the Advent theme of expectant waiting, as the preparations for Christmas start to overwhelm us from early in September. We are assaulted everywhere we go with gaiety, jingles and exhortations to purchase ‘stuff’; and indeed to ‘stuff’ ourselves. The Christmas dinner becomes as almost a vexed question as for a Jewish family eating the Passover – whose house this year? These things will distract us from our spiritual preparations if we allow them to. However, there is a lot of literature available to take us daily through the season of Advent, to help us stay focused on preparing for Christ’s coming.

We start off the season with the Advent Carol Service on Sunday 2nd December at 4pm, followed by refreshments. Or come to church on Tuesday the 6th and 13th December at 5pm in the Lady Chapel to consider ‘The Blessing of Light in Advent’. A time given over to prayer, reflection and scripture in the form of the evening office. (Some incense). Or join us on weekdays (except Wednesday) for Morning Prayer at 9.15am for a quiet time of prayer before the day’s shopping starts. We can always take on ‘a little extra’.

When it arrives may you all have a Blessed Christmas

and a Happy and healthy New Year

Michael Page LLM