I Will Light Candles This Christmas

Advent and Christmas is a time of excitement and celebration. However, it is difficult not to see the darkness of the world. Where the treetops glisten and behind the toys and goodies it can be cold and unsafe. And it is in the darkness that we need light. The candle can light our hope and remind us that we are much more than what is the darkest in our lives. Therefore this time of the year can be a time of light over the darkness. I hope the message in this carol can guide us to become carriers of a light that brings joy, hope, courage, peace, grace, and love, now and when the star dims. 

Commissioned by Celia Ellingson through LutheranArts in honor of Gary Aamodt's 80th Birthday, and dedicated to and premiered by the St. Olaf Christmas Festival.


  • Instrumentation: SATB or SSAA, piano, chamber orchestra or full orchestra
  • Duration: 4 minutes
  • Author/lyricist: Howard Thurman (1899–1981)
  • Language: English
  • Year: 2018
  • Licensing: Boosey & Hawkes


     A J. W. Pepper Editor's Choice




I will light Candles this Christmas;

Candles of joy despite all sadness,

Candles of hope where despair keeps watch,

Candles of courage for fears ever present,

Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,

Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,

Candles of love to inspire all my living,

Candles that will burn all year long.

When the song of the angels is stilled,

When the star in the sky is gone,

When the kings and princes are home,

When the shepherds are back with their flock,

The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost,

To heal the broken,

To feed the hungry,

To release the prisoner,

To rebuild the nations,

To bring peace among others,

To make music in the heart.

​by Howard Thurman