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Advent Devotional: “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”

Dr. Virgina Ward


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.

Each advent hymn reminds us of the duality of the season: the expectation of the birth of Christ and his return at the second coming. “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is no exception as it echoes the feelings of this season. Translated by J.M. Neale in 1851, this song was a chant used during the last seven days of Advent vespers. Originally named Veni, Veni Emmanuel, it was a call and response in Latin stating, “I shall be with you tomorrow.”

Each line speaks to us in this season as we long for Christ.

An invitation is given to the desire of nations, Haggai 2:7, with a specific request to unite the hearts of all mankind to one another. Emmanuel, the one we hope for, is anticipated by all the nations. He is the one who can bid our sad divisions to cease. He is the one who can be our King of Peace.

As we anticipate his arrival we are asked to rejoice. Rejoice in midst of a health pandemic. Rejoice in the midst of economic challenges. Rejoice in the midst of racial division. Our hope and great gladness can only be found in Emmanuel, God who is with us and shall be with us until the ends of the earth. Rejoice! Rejoice!

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
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, 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.

Listen to this rendition:

Nicole C. Mullen – O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

 


Virginia Ward is Dean of the Boston Campus and Executive Director for the Northeast Region of Gordon-Conwell. Virginia’s local and national involvement in the training and development of youth leaders spans three decades. She teaches youth ministry, leadership, and urban ministry development courses for the Boston Campus.