Sunday, November 30, 2014

Hymn-ful Sundays! "O Come, O Come Emmanuel"

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the season in the liturgical tradition which prepares us for the Christmas celebration. Thus for today I have chosen a well-known traditional Advent hymn, which dates from the 12th century. It is said that this hymn has several contributors, so there isn't a single author, but it was translated from Latin by John Mason Neale, an Anglican priest and hymn-writer in the 19th century. The versions of verses vary, especially for the later verses, so I have chosen the version most familiar to me. 

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 Wisdom from on high, who orderest all things mightily;
 to us the path of knowledge show, and teach us in her ways to go.

O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free thine own from Satan's tyranny; 
from depths of hell thy people save, and give them victory over the grave. 

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer our spirits by thine advent here; 
disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death's dark shadows put to flight. 

O come, thou Key of David, come, and open wide our heavenly home; 
make safe the way that leads on high, and close the path to misery. 

O come, O come, great Lord of might, who to thy tribes on Sinai's height 
in ancient times once gave the law in cloud and majesty and awe. 

Latin, 12th century
tr John Mason Neale

This is one of those hymns that I've heard and sung for so long, that it signifies to me the entire Advent season. It tells of our need for a Savior, and the character of the One who came to die for us. Jesus is our Emmanuel, God with us, and his coming fulfilled many prophecies about the Savior. Jesus came as what all of creation was waiting for, the Redeemer of humankind. This hymn helps us to anticipate His coming to earth, not just the baby Emmanuel, but the one who came from the root of Jesse, and the same one who gave the law on Sinai. He is the culmination of it all, and we celebrate His coming to earth

Be blessed and shine in anticipation!

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