Advent means “coming”. We get our word from the Latin “adventus” which is a translation of the Greek “parousia”, which is commonly used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ. For followers of Jesus, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from two different perspectives. The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming.
This year, I want to share a few of the hymns that my family sing to help us focus on the season and bring us closer to the King of Kings who humbled himself to save us all from our rebellious hearts.
While reviewing scripture-based writings, John Mason Neale came across a Latin chant of unknown authorship. Much more than the simple, almost monotone, melodies employed during the earlier centuries of the Church, these words painted a rich illustration of the many biblical prophecies fulfilled by Christ’s birth.
Seizing on the importance of the song’s inspired text, Neale translated the words to English and set them to a fifteenth century processional. Although it has been translated into scores of languages and sung in wildly differing styles and arrangements, the simplistic yet spiritual nature of the song remains intact. It is reverent, a tribute to not only the birth of God’s son, but also the fulfillment of God’s promise to deliver His children from the world.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny ;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o’er the grave.
O come, Thou Dayspring, from on high,
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
And order all things, far and nigh;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And cause us in her ways to go.
O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.