Light a candle in a darkened place
Source: Singing the Faith: 174
Words: Clare Stainsby
Music: “The Advent candle song” by Clare Stainsby
Ideas for use
Alison Richards has written a simple liturgy that can accompany this and the other candle-lighting hymns in Singing the Faith (StF 165 and StF 166). It reflects on the idea of Jesus, “light of the world”. Alison’s liturgy can be downloaded here and includes the suggestion that Verse 1 of the carol be repeated on each Sunday of Advent, together with the appropriate verse for the day. Verses 1 and 2 should be used on the First Sunday of Advent.
‘Light a candle in a darkened place’ is well suited to guitar and instrumental accompaniment and would benefit from a soloist singing Verse 1 if repeated on the later Sundays of Advent.
Clare Stainsby wrote this carol in the mid-1990s, aware that “people like something to do when lighting the Advent candles” but feeling that “The holly and the ivy” (another song that progresses through the weekly themes of Advent) had become over familiar. “Light a candle…” was conceived as a simple and memorable alternative.
A former music teacher, Clare often writes the music for her own words. Here, she set out to create a melody that was encouraging and upbeat. There is a real sense of uplift in the final “so let it burn” of each verse. Clare says that this recurring phrase not only draws attention to Christ’s message, which shines through everything we do at this time of year; it is also an image of “the flame of Christ that burns on to this day – what we’re symbolising in the candle goes on and on.”