The day takes its common name from the Latin word Gaudete ("Rejoice"), the first word of the introit of this day's Mass:
Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus enim prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis: sed in omni oratione petitiones vestræ innotescant apud Deum. Benedixisti Domine terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Jacob.
This may be translated as
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have turned away the captivity of Jacob.
On Gaudete Sunday rose-coloured vestments may be worn instead of violet, (or in the Anglican tradition and some Lutheran traditions, Sarum blue) which is otherwise prescribed for every day in the season of Advent.
In churches which have an Advent wreath, the rose coloured candle is lit in addition to two of the violet (or blue) coloured candles, which represent the first two Sundays of Advent.
Despite the otherwise somber readings of the season of Advent, which has as a secondary theme the need for penitence, the readings on the third Sunday emphasize the joyous anticipation of the Lord's coming.