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1. 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.

2. 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.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

3. O come, Thou Dayspring, 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.

4. O come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heav’nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

5. O come, Adonai, Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times didst give the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

6. O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
And order all things, far and nigh;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And cause us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

7. O come, Desire of nations, bind
All peoples in one heart and mind;
Bid envy, strife and quarrels cease;
Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

~ c. 15th century

This particular Christmas carol had been on my mind a lot recently. I think it’s a fascinating one. It is one of longing and heretofore unfulfilled hopes and desires, while also conveying the deep confidence and joy in the knowledge that those hopes and desires will come true.

Written primarily from the perspective of an Old Testament Israelite, who could very well have lived and died without seeing this promise come to pass, this song reminisces about the past glories of the God of Israel shown to the Jewish people through the law and the kingship and points to the even greater majesty and victory to come through the future advent of God to earth.

This manifestation of the God of heaven would come as a helpless human baby, a sign utterly plain and powerful that God Himself is with us and lives among us. Emmanuel.

Now that we are two thousand years removed from that promised coming of the Messiah to Israel, we can see infinitely more clearly the ramifications of what the Jews could only imagine. As the seventh stanza indicates, the advent of “God with us” has an effect on more than just the Jewish nation. Jesus’ coming to earth was something that all nations yearned for; it is something that will bind all peoples together and “fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.”

Now, we can truly rejoice in the realized hopes and desires of all history.

Emmanuel has come.