Oh, come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel!
The melancholy plainsong of this ancient Advent hymn is a perfect setting for a cry from the heart of the suffering and waiting nation of Israel. Once enslaved in Egypt and a millennium later taken in chains to Babylon, the Israelites had to wait and wait some more to see their destiny as a nation fulfilled. Finally God sent the liberator Moses to Egypt; finally he sent the Persian king Cyrus to enable some of the captive Jews to leave Babylon and return to their ancient land.
As you wait for Christmas this year, as you wait for God’s help in the stresses and pains of your life, as you wait for Christ to return and bring us Home, you can use your Advent time not just for shopping or killing time till the festivities. Sing this hymn with confidence—God keeps his promises. Sing this hymn with hope—your future will be better than your past.
Rejoice! Emmanuel, “God with us,” came once in a manger as promised. Rejoice! Emmanuel comes to us now in Word and sacrament. Rejoice! Emmanuel will come soon to open heaven’s gates.
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).