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.
Though we often sing this song at the very beginning of our Advent celebrations in the modern church, this hymn was originally intended for the very final days before Christmas. The original Latin text had seven verses, one for each of the final seven days before Christmas Eve and was sung in monasteries as early as the eighth and ninth centuries.
Each of the verses named one of the key roles prophesied for the Christ-child. From “God with us” to “divine wisdom” – Jesus fulfilled a wide variety of promises to God’s people. We should never forget that he did not magically appear into a vacuum. He was born the Messiah of a specific people. His role as the “Desire of nations” was only the final purpose, and one that he did not fully take on until after his resurrection.
The chant-like melody of this classic allows us to still our minds for a bit in the midst of this season’s busy-ness. My encouragement to you this day is to take a moment to pause and reflect on what it means that God would make God’s home among us. More importantly: where might we still find Christ among us today?