As Michele said in an earlier post, we Lutherans are still celebrating Advent, not Christmas. Every Sunday for the four weeks before Christmas, we light one or more candles on the Advent wreath and we sing “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” My granddaughter who is 15 always tells me it is one of her favorite hymns, maybe because she has been hearing it over and over again every year of her life. The liturgy and the familiar hymns have a way of embedding themselves in our lives that way; they bring back childhood memories and associations that comfort and sustain us.
Anyway, this hymn has an amazing history. We have no idea who wrote it– the song is ancient and penned by monks sometime before 800 A.D.. The tune was written by nuns in an obscure French convent in the 1500’s, then rediscovered by an evangelist named John Mason Neale who had been shunted off to labor in a church in the Madeira islands near Africa. Isn’t it amazing how God works? It uses a wealth of phrases from the Old Testament prophecies that speak of the coming of the Messiah: rod of Jesse, dayspring from on high, key of David, wisdom from on high. It was no doubt meant as a teaching tool for what was then an illiterate population. If you’re not familiar with Katelyn’s favorite hymn, take time to listen as you wait with God’s people for the coming of the Savior.