Scripture Verse

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


John M. Neale (1818–1866)


Words: Au­thor un­known, pos­si­bly 12th Cen­tu­ry (Ve­ni, ve­ni Em­ma­nu­el). 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).

Thomas Helmore (1811–1890)


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Isaiah Writes of Christ’s Birth