Advent Series: 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

As we sat together in our living room for our one-on-one, the student I was discipling began to share about a struggle she was facing. After awhile she summed it all up by saying, “But I shouldn’t talk about my struggles. Christians should only focus on the good things, right?” 

I was so glad to be able to tell her that was not the case. We talked about how all throughout Scripture people brought their troubles, disappointments and longings to the Lord – and that He heard them. The fact that God initiates and maintains a relationship with us based on reality and truth, not just a fantasy of lovely things we try to conjure up about ourselves or our situation, is one of the most uncomfortable and yet loving things about our relationship with Him.

In observing Advent this year, it’s no surprise that I’ve been listening to the hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Lately, many of the lyrics have resonated with me. Maybe it’s because we’re living in a time of deep political, racial and generational division. Maybe it’s because of the intense spiritual warfare that my family has been facing. Or maybe it’s because of the grief that people close to me are walking through. Whatever the case, one reason the hymn has connected with me is because it clearly captures the suffering and longing for salvation, healing, freedom and justice that we all desire.

But while I love that the lyrics don’t shy away from the hardships that people faced while waiting for Christ’s first coming (and many that we still face now, waiting for His second), I find it so meaningful how each stanza also references a different aspect of Christ’s character. This hymn (based off of 8th or 9th century Latin “O Antiphons” [verses/chants] that monastics sang during the last week before Christmas) was crafted to provide greater understanding of who the Messiah is. 

Though it has a mournful tune, it very clearly points toward hope! When we feel alone, may we remember Emmanuel (Matt. 1:23), God with us. When we face spiritual darkness, let us call upon the Rod of Jesse (Is. 11:1), our victorious Savior. When we are bowed down by pain or loss, may the Day-spring (Luke 1:78) spread light and comfort over us. In our desperation and misery, let us hold onto One who has the Key of David (Rev. 3:7). In light of injustice and brokenness, may our Lord of Might (Deut. 10:17) bring His righteousness and justice to bear. 

What about you? Is there a particular area or circumstance for which you are crying out to God during this season? Which reference to Christ in this hymn most resonates with you?

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”
Lyrics: Translated from Latin by Jason Mason Neal in 1851
Tune: From a French song, combined with the Latin text by Thomas Helmore in 1854

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 Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave 

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. 

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, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times did’st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.

One thought on “Advent Series: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

  1. Emma, I have really been impressed with all the amazing names of God in the advent scriptures and songs this season. What you highlight from this song opens my eyes even more. He is an awesome Savior! Thanks for highlighting that.


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