Scripture Verse

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him Emmanuel. Isaiah 7:14

Introduction

portrait
John M. Neale
(1818–1866)

Words: Au­thor un­known, pos­si­bly 12th Cen­tu­ry (Ve­ni, ve­ni Eman­u­el). Com­bined from var­i­ous an­ti­phons, and trans­lat­ed from La­tin to Eng­lish by John M. Neale, Med­i­æ­val Hymns, 1851. Neale’s orig­in­al trans­la­tion be­gan, Draw nigh, draw nigh, Em­man­u­el. Hen­ry S. Cof­fin is cred­it­ed with trans­lat­ing the stan­zas be­gin­ning O come, Thou Wis­dom and O come, De­sire of na­tions.

Music: Ve­ni Em­man­u­el 15th Cen­tu­ry pro­ces­sion­al of French Fran­cis­can nuns (the set­ting for the fun­er­al hymn Li­be­ra me). Ar­ranged by Tho­m­as Hel­more in The Hym­nal Not­ed, Part 2 (Lon­don: 1856) (🔊 pdf nwc).

illustration
Isaiah Writes of Christ’s Birth

Background

The lyr­ics echo sev­er­al 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.

Lyrics

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Refrain

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

Refrain

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

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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.

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O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

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O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

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O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.

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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.

Refrain