This November Lindsey and I struggled with a question, “How early is too early to listen to Christmas music?” For some reason this year we just couldn’t wait. By the time Halloween was over I had already started breaking out the Christmas CD’s. One of my favorite songs to hear at Christmastime is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” There is such longing expressed in both the words and melody of this song. Each verse references a prophecy of who Messiah would be and what He would accomplish. With each prophecy Israel longed for the day when they would no longer be held captive. They longed for Messiah. We also long for Messiah but we rejoice in knowing Him and what He has done! We have been set free from sin and death by Emmanuel! At the same time we long for His second coming when we will once and for all be set free from the captivity of this earth. We also long for the day when Israel will once and for all see Emmanuel in the face of Christ! This song encapsulates what it means to anticipate Jesus (so I don’t feel so bad for listening to it early because I just couldn’t wait!). This song is also a testament to God’s provision. He promised that Messiah would fulfill these truths and He did. God promised to give the gift of Himself and He provided Jesus. In reflecting on the prophecies and their fulfillment in Jesus we are reminded at how God worked throughout history to accomplish His Word. What’s amazing is the way this song came about is also a testament to that same truth.
The original author of this song is unknown. All we know is that the words were probably written by a European monk at some point around 800 A.D. This was during the time known as the “Dark Ages”. A time marked by warfare, disease, and spiritual darkness. You can see that this writer experienced some of the same longing that those earlier Israelites did. In a time of ignorance to the Scriptures he longed for Messiah’s truth and presence to be known. Years later, in the 1400’s, a group of French nuns located at a convent in Portugal put music to these earlier written lyrics. It wasn’t until the 19th century, almost 1,000 years after it was written, that an Anglican priest was reading through an ancient book of hymns in a church off the coast of Africa. In this book he stumbled across a Latin hymn put to music 400 years earlier. Being fluent in 20 languages, the Priest translated the words of this song into the version the world sings today. Over hundreds of years, in different places, through different hands the truth of Jesus came together to be proclaimed in song. In the same way over hundreds of years, through different prophets, and in very different places the truth of Jesus was proclaimed. God oversaw each part that the name of Jesus would be lifted high.
This Christmas we rejoice in what Jesus has accomplished and we look forward and long for what is still to come. We thank God for how He has worked throughout history. We rejoice in the fact that He oversees all things. We also praise Him that He has provided Himself. Because of this gift we are able to sing, “from depths of hell Thy people save, and give them victory o’er the grave.” Jesus is “God with us” and one day, because of Christmas, we will forever be with Him. O come, O come, Emmanuel!
Rejoicing In The Songs Of The Season, Pastor Rudy