O come, O come, Emmanuel

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"O come, O come, Emmanuel"
Translation of "Veni, veni, Emmanuel"
Publishedc. 1850
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"O come, O come, Emmanuel"
Translation of "Veni, veni, Emmanuel"
Publishedc. 1850

O come, O come, Emmanuel is the mid-19th century translation by John Mason Neale and Henry Sloane Coffin[1][2] of the Ecclesiastical Latin text "Veni, veni, Emmanuel". It is a metrical version of the O Antiphons from the final week of Advent vespers, which now serves as a popular hymn. Its origins are unclear: it is thought that the antiphons are from at least the 8th Century, but "Veni, veni Emmanuel" may well be 12th century in origin.[3][4] The text is based on the biblical prophecy from Isaiah 7:14 that states that God will give Israel a sign that will be called Immanuel (Lit.: God with us). Matthew 1:23 states fulfillment of this prophecy in the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

The first verse also appears to be based on Psalm 137 in which people of Judah are bemoaning their captivity in Babylon. Their captors had required them to sing some of their songs from their glory days. To which their reply in verse 4 was, "How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?"


Latin Text[edit]

Veni veni, Emmanuel
captivum solve Israel,
qui gemit in exsilio,
privatus Dei Filio.
R: Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
nascetur pro te Israel!
Veni, O Sapientia,
quae hic disponis omnia,
veni, viam prudentiae
ut doceas et gloriae. R.
Veni, veni, Adonai,
qui populo in Sinai
legem dedisti vertice
in maiestate gloriae. R.
Veni, O Iesse virgula,
ex hostis tuos ungula,
de specu tuos tartari
educ et antro barathri. R.
Veni, Clavis Davidica,
regna reclude caelica,
fac iter tutum superum,
et claude vias inferum. R.
Veni, veni O Oriens,
solare nos adveniens,
noctis depelle nebulas,
dirasque mortis tenebras. R.
Veni, veni, Rex Gentium,
veni, Redemptor omnium,
ut salvas tuos famulos
peccati sibi conscios. R.

Lyrical English Translation[edit]

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
R: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel!
O come, Thou Wisdom, from on high,
and order all things far and nigh;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go. R.
O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
who to Thy tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times did give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe. R.
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse's stem,
from ev'ry foe deliver them
that trust Thy mighty power to save,
and give them vict'ry o'er the grave. R.
O come, Thou Key of David, come
and open wide our heav'nly home;
make safe the way that leads on high
that we no more have cause to sigh. R.
O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death's dark shadow put to flight. R.
O come, Desire of the nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid every strife and quarrel cease
and fill the world with heaven's peace. R.[5]

Musical influence[edit]

Ottorino Respighi quotes the melody in "The Gift of the Magi" in his Trittico Botticelliano. Zoltán Kodály wrote a choral work "Adventi ének (Advent song: Veni, veni Emmanuel)" in 1943 based on the melody and sung mostly with Latin or Hungarian lyrics. The composer James MacMillan wrote a percussion concerto, Veni, Veni, Emmanuel, based on this carol in 1991, premiered during the 1992 BBC Proms.

The composer Arvo Pärt wrote a symphony, his 1977 Symphony no. 3, that utilizes the melody and expresses the millenarian (or even apocalyptic) theme of the text. He also wrote seven Magnificat Antiphons, which were essentially the German texts of the hymn set to a variety of arrangements.[6] The first movement of George Dyson's 1949 Concerto da Chiesa uses the theme as a basis for the first movement. [7] U2's song White as Snow from its 2009 release No Line on the Horizon takes its tune directly from the hymn.


External links[edit]