Christmas longing

My favorite Christmas carol is “O Come, Emmanuel.” It is so hauntingly beautiful, but when performed on cello, it’s almost heartbreaking.



Unlike most Christmas hymns, it is not primarily joyful and triumphant. It is a song of longing, although longing in assurance: “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.” It is a song that asks of God based on the promises and faithfulness of God.

Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace on earth, but it seems this Christmas has been full of strife. “O Come, Emmanuel” reminds us that the promises of God are both now and not yet. God is with us now, but not yet have we entered into his full rest.

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.

The story of how we got this ancient hymn.

O Come Again, Emmanuel: An Advent Mediation.

Another devotion and explanation of the Antiphons, the style of the original hymn.

Full lyrics:

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,
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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 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, 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.

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.

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.

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