November 28, 2022
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
(Excerpts from Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas)
“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” was written back in the ninth century, making it is one of the oldest Christmas carols still sung today. The writer is unknown, they were most likely a monk or priest, someone who was well versed in both the Old and New Testament. Originally, this hymn was only sung one week out of the year, in Advent leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth. The original form was known as “The Great Antiphons” or “The Great O’s.”
Originally there were seven verses, one was chanted or sung each day leading up to Christmas. Each verse represented a different biblical view of the Messiah. The seven views were Emmanuel (Isaiah 7:14), Wisdom from on High, great Lord of Might, Branch of Jesse’s Stem (Isaiah 11), Key of David (Isaiah 22:22), Bright and Morning Star (Malachi 4:2), and King of nations. It was a condensed study on the Bible’s view of the Messiah. This was helpful because many people were illiterate, so they didn’t have access to the Bible. Through this hymn they were able to learn the story of Christ the savior from both the Old and New Testaments. It brought the story of Jesus to life during centuries of darkness and ignorance, making it one of the most important songs in the Christian faith.