Thursday, December 27, 2007
"O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"
Words: Combined from various antiphons by an unknown author, possibly in the 12th Century (Veni, veni Emanuel); translated from Latin to English by John M. Neale, Mediaeval Hymns, 1851. Neale’s original translation began, “Draw nigh, draw nigh, Emmanuel.”
Music: Veni Emmanuel, from a 15th Century processional of French Franciscan nuns (the setting for the funeral hymn Libera me); arranged by Thomas Helmore in the Hymnal Noted, Part II (London: 1856).
The lyrics echo a number of prophetic themes. The title comes from the well known Isaiah 7:14: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Immanuel is Hebrew for “God with us.” The “Rod of Jesse” refers to Isaiah 11:1: “There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse”; Jesse was the father of David, second king of Israel. “Day-Spring” comes from Zacharias, father of John the Baptist, in Luke 1:78: “The dayspring from on high has visited us.” “Thou Key of David” is in Isaiah 22:22: “The key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder,” which in turn refers to Isaiah 9:6 “The government shall be upon His shoulder.”