O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Text: Latin antiphons, 12th cent., translated 1851
Music: Plainsong chant, 13th cent.
This ancient hymn is based on the “Great ‘O’ Antiphons,” part of the medieval Advent liturgy. During the late middle ages, the monks would heighten their anticipation for Christmas by singing this on each day of the week leading up to Christmas. This Advent season, we will be guided by our own seven “monks” (a.k.a. CPC Elders) through the biblical prophecies of Christ that are highlighted in the chant. Each one of the original seven verses is based on an Old Testament name for the coming Messiah.
“O Sapientia”: Wisdom
“O Adonai”: Lord of might, Giver of the law
“O Rex”: King of Gentiles
”O Clavis David”: Key of David
“O Oriens”: Dayspring, Morning Star
“O Radix Jesse”: Root of Jesse
“O Emmanuel”: God with us
The first seven letters of these titles form a reverse acrostic, which in Latin would spell “Ero cras,” meaning “I will be here tomorrow.” This playful and prayerful puzzle points to the birth of Christ, and it gives Him a silent, but very present voice, in the chant. As these verses unfold, Christ is whispering in our ears and writing on our hearts the truth that sets us free. “I am coming, and even now, I am here.”
For the next several weeks, we will walk together through the beautiful truths of these prophecies. The Elders will take them in original order, as has been done for nearly a millenium. Each elder will present to us a short devotion that will help prepare our hearts for the coming Emmanuel, Root of Jesse, Dayspring, Key of David, Wisdom, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. It is our hope that these brief reflections will encourage and inspire you to worship the Word made flesh. Rejoice, people of God, Emmanuel shall come to you!
You can click here to listen to a recording performed by the Christendom College Choir & Schola Gregoriana.
The devotions will be posted below on the Wednesdays and Sundays leading up to Christmas.