Please share one of your favorite Advent/Christmas hymns and why it is meaningful to you.

I have a confession to make, when it comes to Christmas songs I fall into the crowd that plays them early and often. Hymns, carols, old classics, or new choruses, it doesn’t matter as long as it puts me in the holiday mood. That being said, even with all the great choices out there like “Joy to the World,” “Hallelujah,” and “Mary, Did You Know?” my favorite song is actually a 19th century translation of an older Latin hymn using a metrical paraphrase of the O Antiphons.* With its haunting notes, and lyrics that echo the longings of the prophets, every year I look forward to singing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Take a moment please and meditate on each verse taking note of the invitational prayer that each verse begins with.

“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by The Piano Guys

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

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.

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

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.

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, 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.

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

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.

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

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.

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.

One of the things instilled in me throughout my time in seminary was that you cannot fully celebrate the joy of Christmas without first experiencing the anticipation and expectation associated with Advent—the reason being that you lack context. If you truly want to understand why the birth of Christ was such a monumental event, you have to spend time learning about the history and hardships of the Jewish people as well as the messianic prophecies, particularly those found in Isaiah, which foretold of the one who would come to set the captives free.

Many of the verses in this song are inspired by, or taken directly from, Scripture.

For example:

Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (reference to Emmanuel)

Isaiah 9:2 “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” (reference to Day-Spring)

Isaiah 11:1 “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” (reference to Rod of Jesse)

Isaiah 11:2-3 “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord” (reference to Wisdom from on High)

Isaiah 11:10, 12 “In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious… He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth.” (reference to Root of Jesse)

Isaiah 22:22 “I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.” (reference to Key of David)

I do love that this song is permeated with prophecies, but I am also thankful that it is equally pervaded with prayer. As each verse begins with a plea of those who longed for Christ to come the first time around, it also serves as a reminder for us to pray in expectation for Christ to come again. And so, as we continue through this season of Advent together, let us sing and pray…

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

“Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20b)


What are some of your favorite Christmas Hymns/Carols?

How early do you start playing Christmas music? How early is too early?

What practices do you participate in during this season that help you experience the anticipation and expectation associated with Advent?

3 thoughts on ““O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by Pastor Randy LeBaron

  1. I LOVE that song as well. One of my newer favorites is The Advent Hymn, it has become tradition for me to sing this in our church on either the first or last Sunday of advent these are the lyrics:
    – Christ whose glory fills the skies
    Christ the everlasting light
    Their some of righteousness arise
    And triumph o’er these shades of night
    And come thou long awaited one
    In the fullness of your love
    And lose this heat bound up by shame
    And I will never be the same
    So here I wait in hope of you
    All my soul’s longing through and through
    And dayspring from on high be near
    And daystar in my heart appear
    Dark and cheerless is the morn
    And ’til your love in me is born
    And joyless is the evening sun
    And ’til emmanuel has come –
    I typically start listening to Christmas music on November 1st and still listen through January. I LOVE Christmas and have a hard time letting it go so it comforts me to keep listening for several weeks after 😊

    Like

    1. The problem is that most churches start Christmas (vs Advent) music so early that after coming to a climax on Christmas Eve they put them in the vault until the next December but the reality is that Christmas should mark the start of all of the actual Christmas praise songs and then that should continue for weeks.

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