The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him Emmanuel.@Isaiah 7:14
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John M. Neale (1818-1866)

Combined from various antiphons by an unknown author, possibly in the 12th Century (Veni, veni Emanuel); translated from Latin to English by John M. Neale, Mediaeval Hymns, 1851. Neale’s original translation began, Draw nigh, draw nigh, Emmanuel.

Veni Emmanuel from a 15th Century processional of French Franciscan nuns (the setting for the funeral hymn Libera me); arranged by Thomas Helmore in the Hymnal Noted, Part II (London: 1856) ( pdf nwc).

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.

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Isaiah Writes of Christ’s Birth

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

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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.

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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.

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