US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Timeless Christmas carols

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O Come, O Come sing with us. A Christmas carol brings family together every Advent.

By Guest Blogger Sue Stanton

My longest personal and family tradition for Advent is singing, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" while standing around a lighted advent wreath. The nuns at St. Paul School in Florence, Kentucky where I attended grade school would hand out pieces of paper with the words printed on, and we would stand in the hallway of the school, all 200 of us, and sing that song before being dismissed for lunch at noon.

Today, I sing it at church, but I also have my lighted advent wreath sitting on the table in my kitchen where I light the candles and gather my family around it—now with one grandchild.

It's a simple thing but it dawned on me that I have been singing that one song for the last 54 years. How many times had that song been sung by past family ancestors? It is the song that connects us all together still over time and space. Now my grandchild is learning to sing it at age 4.

A small tradition for one family for sure, but it is in the sometimes insignificant details of life where we pass on the most significant of experiences.

Guest blogger Sue Stanton is an author, journalist, and contributor to U.S. Catholic. Her website is

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Guest blog posts express the views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of U.S. Catholic, its editors, or the Claretians.