December 1

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Some songs are old, having been sung for decades.  Then there is “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”  This song has a history that goes all the way back to the eighth century – over 1,300 years ago!  The words were originally written as a poem and not arranged to music as a Christmas carol until the twelfth century.

Have you ever wondered what causes a song to endure for that long?  Why are we still singing it?  Though the music is beautiful, there are many beautiful songs.  I think the enduring nature of this song is found in its message of hope. 

The song is really a beautiful expectation.  In fact, the poem on which it was based is arranged as an acrostic that spelled out the phrase “ero cras” which translates to “I will be with you tomorrow.”  The underlying theme of the song is that the world is not yet what it will be.  Drawing its imagery from the nation of Israel in the Old Testament days waiting for the arrival of the promised Savior, these lyrics talk about how the arrival of God the Son (Jesus — “Emmanuel” means God with us), began to make good on a number of promises God had made to His people. 

Today as we sing this song we still have a sense of expectation.  The world still is not yet what it will be.  We still live in a world of sin, pain, violence, illness, etc.  We long to see this world change . . . to be redeemed and restored.  As Romans 8:19-25 says, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we are saved.  Now hope that is seen is not hope.  For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

So as you sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” this Christmas, may you remember the first fruits that came from Jesus’ first coming at Bethlehem.  May that give you hope that “He will be with us tomorrow.”  And, when Jesus comes back, our bodies will be redeemed and the world will be restored.  Therefore, we sing (and wait) with a patient hope.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

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 Rod of Jesse, free

Thine own from Satan’s tyranny

From depths of Hell Thy people save

And give them victory o’er the grave

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, o Israel


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

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, o Israel


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

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, o Israel


O come, O come, Thou Lord of might

Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height

In ancient times did’st give the Law

In cloud, and majesty and awe

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, o Israel



To access all 31 days of “The Christmas Carols” Devotional, click here.


To access playlists for all 31 songs, visit:

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