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.
Yesterday began the last seven days before Christmas. Since the 8th-century, many followers of Christ have used the ‘O Antiphons’ as a method of preparation for Christ’s arrival. Each of them illuminates a key element of who Christ is and how God interacts with the world. They include: Wisdom from on high, Lord of might, Root of Jesse, Key of David, Dayspring, Desire of Nations, and, finally, Emmanuel.
Moving from the beginning of creation, through Sinai, into Jesse’s lineage and David’s throne, the poem finally comes into the return of Christ at the end of time. Most important, the final antiphon remarks on God’s oldest and greatest intention: to be “God with us” (the literal translation of Emmanuel). The plaintive melody and graceful words describe what God does and how God works. More essential, however, is the ways that these descriptors identify who God is – the heart of everything that God does.
We live in a world that remains much as it was in the 8th or even the 1st-century: full of gloom, doom, misery, oppression, and tyranny. Evil is running rampant. We are still very much in need of a Savior.
This song invites us to dream of the day when Christ will return and God will be all in all. As we dream, pray, wish for the miracles that God’s salvation brings, let us also find ways to take part in the opportunities to do something here and now. Christ will return and has already asked how we will receive him, not only in the end, but also in the moments in between.
Something worth remembering in these final days of preparation, even as we pray: O come, Desire of nations, bind all peoples in one heart and mind; bid envy, strife, and discord cease; fill the whole world with heaven’s peace. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
Reverse Advent Calendar: Find and learn more about a program that works to end bullying in schools and in life. Think about taking a training course or finding additional ways to take part.