Christmas Songs #1: O Come O Come Emmanuel

As I write emails during this season, I’ll post them here too.
Greetings to any relatives and friends who may get this email,

I wonder if you would bear with me this season if I wrote some emails about Christmas? If you know me very well, you know I’m kind of a Scrooge when it comes to lights and trees, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the music and the history of Christmas - Christmas before the stores got hold of it. Christmas was always a mix of the sacred and secular, but there was a time when it was actually celebrated as the birthday of Jesus.

The old Christmas songs had so much of the gospel in them, that they could preach sermons about Christmas all by themselves, no preacher or interpreter required. I’d like to send you some songs and comments this season.

I’ve gathered up a list of my favorites (no Elvis here, sorry) and I propose to send out one a day till Christmas.

Today, the first song is O come, O come, Emmanuel.

Emmanuel, which you will find in Isaiah 7.14 and Matthew 1.23, is a Hebrew word meaning “God with us.” Matthew uses this Old Testament prophecy in Isaiah to show that God himself was coming to earth to be one of us in the birth of Jesus.

The author of this Christmas hymn got excited about the idea of the fulfillment of prophecy, and so each verse of his song brings out some part of the Old Testament story and ties it in to the work of Christ.

O come, o come, Emmanuel

Hear the song:

(To hear the song, click the link or paste into your browser. Finally, where it says “Don’t have a Rhapsody account?”, push “Play Now.”)

Lyrics (

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.


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