O Come, O Come, Emmanuel



Dominic sent me this today to cool my head. I still think this is one of my favourite hymns for advent, despite Catherine Stead 's attempt to ruin it for me earlier this week by sharing a heavy metal version on Facebook! I'm sure you will agree, this is far more civilised:


The hymn is a metrical version of the "O Antiphons" from the final week of Advent vespers. It is believed that the traditional music stems from a 15th Century French processional hymn for Franciscan nuns, but it may also have 8th Century Gregorian origins. It is one of the most solemn Advent hymns.

The O Antiphons are Magnificat antiphons used at Vespers of the last seven days of Advent in Western Christian traditions. The importance of the "O Antiphons" is twofold. First, each one is a title for the Messiah. Secondly, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah.

Each antiphon is a name of Christ, one of his attributes mentioned in Scripture. They are:

December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)

December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)

December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)

December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)

December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)

December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)

December 23: O Emmanuel (O With Us is God)

The hymn O come, O come, Emmanuel (in Latin, Veni Emmanuel) is a lyrical paraphrase of these antiphons.

The first letters of the titles taken backwards form a Latin acrostic of "Ero Cras" which translates to "Tomorrow, I will be there", mirroring the theme of the antiphons.


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