Certain Sundays throughout the liturgical year have taken their names from the first word in latin of the Introit, the entrance antiphon at Mass. Gaudete Sunday - the third Sunday of Advent is one of these. The Introit for Gaudete Sunday is taken from Philippians 4:4,5: "Gaudete in Domino semper" ("Rejoice in the Lord always").
"Rejoice: the Lord is nigh."
As Christmas draws near, the Church emphasizes the joy which should be in our hearts over all that the birth of our Saviour means for us. The great joy of Christians is to see the day drawing nigh when the Lord will come again in His glory to lead them into His kingdom.
The oft-repeated Veni ("Come") of Advent is an echo not only of the prophets but also of the conclusion of the Apocalypse of St. John: "Come, Lord Jesus," the last words of the New Testament.
Like Lent, Advent is a penitential season, so the priest normally wears purple vestments. But on Gaudete Sunday, having passed the midpoint of Advent, the Church lightens the mood a little, and the priest may wear rose vestments. The change in colour provides us with encouragement to continue our spiritual preparation—especially prayer and fasting—for Christmas. For this same reason, the third candle of the Advent wreath, first lit on Gaudete Sunday, is traditionally rose-coloured.
Gaudete is a sacred Christmas carol, which is thought to have been composed in the 16th century, but could easily have existed as a monophonic hymn in the late medieval period, with polyphonic Alto, Tenor, and Bass parts added during the 15th century, particularly due to its Medieval Latin lyrics. The song was published in Piae Cantiones, a collection ofThe video below is a recording of the Irish group ANÚNA.
Finnish/Swedish sacred songs published in 1582. No music is given for the verses, but the standard tune comes from older liturgical books.
The Latin text is a typical medieval song of praise, which follows the standard pattern for the time - a uniform series of four-line stanzas, each preceded by a two-line refrain (in the early English carol this was known as the burden). Carols could be on any subject, but typically they were about the Virgin Mary, the Saints or Christmastide theme.