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Song to Share – O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

My first memory of this hymn is a Christmas Eve in the church we attended when I was a child. The choir processed down the aisle of the darkened church. Each choir member carrying a candle. They chanted in unison the first lines of the hymn over and over again.

O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appear.

This season of Advent is one of waiting. In our homes, our nation, our world, we are experiencing the mourning of lonely exile. Our hearts are heavy. We are weary. Thanksgiving was not what we had hoped. Christmas is looking to be more of the same, with limited gatherings and less than hoped for celebrations.

We long for us to be set free from the captivity we find ourselves.

I imagine there are things above and beyond this that weigh you down. How we long for one who will come to set us free.

On that Christmas Eve many years ago, the choir made their way to the front of the church. Once they had all entered and took their place behind the altar, the light of the church came up, and they sang in harmony the refrain:

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.

The Light of the World comes to shine, casting away the darkness. The light that no darkness will overcome.

We long for the light.

Three versions of this song for you today:

1 – a traditional take

2 – a contemporary version by “for King & Country”

3 – an instrumental version by “The Piano Guys”

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"O come, O come, Emmanuel" (Latin: "Veni, veni, Emmanuel") is a Christian hymn for Advent and Christmas. The text was originally written in Latin. It is a metrical paraphrase of the O Antiphons, a series of plainchant antiphons attached to the Magnificat at Vespers over the final days before Christmas. The hymn has its origins over 1,200 years ago in monastic life in the 8th or 9th century. Seven days before Christmas Eve monasteries would sing the “O antiphons” in anticipation of Christmas Eve when the eighth antiphon, “O Virgo virginum” (“O Virgin of virgins”) would be sung before and after Mary’s canticle, the Magnificat (Luke 1:46b-55). The Latin metrical form of the hymn was composed as early as the 12th century.

The 1861 translation by John Mason Neale from Hymns Ancient and Modern is the most prominent by far in the English-speaking world, but other English translations also exist. Translations into other modern languages (particularly German) are also in widespread use. While the text may be used with many metrical hymn tunes, it was first combined with its most famous tune, often itself called Veni Emmanuel, in the English-language Hymnal Noted in 1851. Later, the same tune was used with versions of "O come, O come, Emmanuel" in other languages, including Latin.

Let us Pray: O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appear.

We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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