O Come O Come Emmanuel (Songs Of The Season)

O come, O come, Emmanuel, 
And ransom captive Israel 
That mourns in lonely exile here 
Until the Son of God appear 
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel 
Shall come to thee, O Israel 

O come, Thou Day-Spring 
Come and cheer 
Our spirits by Thine advent here 
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night 
And death’s dark shadows put to flight 
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel 
Shall come to thee, O Israel 

O come, desire of nations, bind 
In one the hearts of all mankind 
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease 
And be Thyself our King of peace 
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel 
Shall come to thee, O Israel 
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel 
Shall come to thee, O Israel 

Lyrics:  Jason Mason Neale (translator, original Latin “Veni, veni, Emmanuel") 
Musical Arrangement:  To the tune “Bone Jesu dulcet cunctis,” perhaps arranged by Thomas Helmore 

For my money, some of the best Christmas songs out there are the ones that have a minor, almost mysterious “feel” to them.  Songs like What Child Is This?, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and this week’s O Come O Come Emmanuel almost cause the hair on my arms to stand up when I sing or hear them (no joke).  There is something about the power of music and structure of chords; especially when they are a minor key.  Many of the songs mentioned have a minor tone but also a major component they resolve to when it comes to the chorus or refrain (I majored in Worship Studies in Bible school; can you tell?).  It is sheer brilliance in terms of lyric and melody writing. And ultimately, it is all through the work of the Lord to give the talent to men and women who scribe the song. 
O Come O Come Emmanuel is perhaps one of the oldest songs we sing at Christmas.  Evidence is unclear as to just how old, but the ancient text (before melody is attributed) is thought to have been recited as early as the 8th or 9th century in monasteries.  Wow.  Think of that the next time you sing or hear a song like this.  The sheer volume of those who have sang these words before you is MASSIVE.  There is an agreement within those who sing these words and a “cloud of witnesses” who attest to them. 

To me, this song is about longing and hope.  “Ransom captive Israel” is a phrase from the first verse which grabs me.  The exile of Israel; the brokenness of the land, spiritually-speaking, is a means to call forth Jesus’ coming.  Come and heal.  Come and restore.  Come and bring us out of bondage.  And into that freedom, “we rejoice,” which is the refrain after each verse (I’ve included above 3 of the most common, there are several more). 
The contrast of light vs. dark is also apparent in this song.  “Gloomy clouds of night” and “death’s dark shadows.”  We know from the promises of the Bible that Jesus came to abolish such things:  In Him [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:4,5  Jesus’ advent, His coming to Earth, means that darkness is defeated.  The birth of Christ is the beginning of the end for those who walk in darkness.  The culmination is Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, which again give us hope and allow our hearts to rejoice. 

Finally, what of this word Emmanuel (or Immanuel)?  To study its meaning, we only need to review Scripture:  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).  Matthew 1:22  The promise of Christmas can be summed up in this one word:  Emmanuel.  God with us.  God among us.  God dwelling in flesh.  Walking our streets.  Feeling what we feel.  Experiencing everything that we experience.  Can any other religion say this about their god?  No, not one. 
Guys again this week I want to consider the power of these lyrics we sing during the Christmas season.  These words are not canonical (meaning they are not inspired and therefore are not Scripture).  But they take their lines from the influence of Scripture, from the very text itself.  If we are to sing and speak truth during this time, we do best to go back to these hymns even the most ancient of which and proclaim once again, O Come O Come Emmanuel! 

Thank you so much for spending this time digging in again to a beloved Christmas classic.  I’ve attached a link to my YouTube channel once again where you can listen to a version I recorded of this song.  I love the weight of what we are singing here and just like Joy To The World, there is much hope in proclaiming that Messiah has come!  Let the whole world hear. 

Guys I love you and I love walking this journey with you.  Let me know how you are doing…shoot me an email and let me know how I can pray for you today.  God bless. 

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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  Ephesians 5:15-17


O Come O Come Emmanuel (Cover)//Derek Charles Johnson (Songs Of The Season)

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