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  • Henry Prater

Advent Music: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

This beautiful hymn has a long history of being sung in the season of Advent. It dates back to the 9th century, where it was sung in the monasteries as they prepared to celebrate Christmas Eve. Composed in Latin, it was found and translated by John Mason Neale, in the 19th century. The version we are familiar with in our United Methodist Hymnal was retranslated by professor Laurence Hull Stookey, to more accurately reflect the original Latin.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel invites us into the story and struggle of the people of Israel. Israel had faced many trials in their history, yet they knew that there was hope. They had hope in God’s Messiah, who would deliver his people and restore Israel to the right relationship with the Lord God. They believed in God’s promise, delivered in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Matthew quoted Isaiah in his Gospel, in Matthew 1:22-23, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).” This song helps us celebrate that our God came to be with us! Christ Jesus was born in a world with heartache and struggle, giving us a Savior who understands our struggle. The refrain drives home that message:

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee,

O Israel.

Edgemont, as we progress through this season of Advent, think of this beautiful hymn, which reminds us of our wonderful Emmanuel, God who is with us. Remember that no matter the circumstances, no matter the adaptations we are having to make in this strange time, that Jesus Christ is with each and every one of us through the power of the Holy Spirit! That is truly something that should cause us to rejoice!

Pastor Henry

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