Come, O Come Emmanuel
Kenneth W. Osbeck
-- The preparation for the celebration of our Lord's birth begins four Sundays
before Christmas Day. This begins the period known as the Advent season. Advent
centers on the Old Testament prophecies concerning a coming Messiah and His establishment
of an earthly kingdom. The Messiah's coming was prophesied six hundred years before
His birth. At the time the Jewish people were living in captivity in Babylon.
For centuries thereafter faithful Jews earnestly anticipated the Deliverer-Messiah
with great longing and expectation, echoing the prayer that He would "ransom captive
Israel." And finally the long awaited heavenly announcement came-"Unto you is
born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord!" (Luke
"O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" was originally
used in the medieval church liturgy as a series of antiphons-short musical statements
that were sung for the week of vesper services just before Christmas Eve. Each
of these antiphons greets the anticipated Messiah with one of the titles ascribed
Him throughout the Old Testament: Wisdom, Emmanuel, The Lord of Might, The Rod
of Jesse, Dayspring, and The Key of David.
haunting modal melody for the verses is also of ancient origin. It is based on
one of the earliest forms of sacred music known-the chant or plainsong.
come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile
here until the Son of God appear.
O come, O come,
Thou Lord of might, who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times
didst give the law in cloud and majesty and awe.
come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine own from Satan's tyranny;
of hell Thy people save and give them vict'ry o'er the grave.
come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer our spirits by Thine advent here;
away the shades of night and pierce the clouds and bring us light.
come, Thou Key of David, come and open wide our heav'nly home
Where all Thy
saints with Thee shall dwell -- O come, O come, Emmanuel!
Rejoice! rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
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