Wednesday, December 19

"O Come, O Come Emmanuel!"

Talking about Christmas music - its majesty, beauty and wisdom of lyrics- here is one very representative example:
This Carol, O come, O come Emmanuel is one of my favorites. And I find the words of this hymn to be rich in theological depth as well as beautiful in poetic expression. 
The hymn is actually a latin ecclesiastical text dated 8th Century, based on the well-known prophecy of Isaiah. The first verse of the original latin hymn is the following: 

"Veni, veni Emmanuel;
Captivum solve Israel,
Qui gemit in exilio,
Privatus Dei Filio

But the English translation is a very succesful one. 

1. O come, O come, Emmanuel!
Redeem thy captive Israel
That into exile drear is gone,
Far from the face of God's dear Son.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

2. O come, thou Branch of Jesse! draw1
The quarry from the lion's claw;
From the dread caverns of the grave,
From nether hell, thy people save.

3. O come, O come, thou Dayspring bright!
Pour on our souls thy healing light;
Dispel the long night's lingering gloom,
And pierce the shadows of the tomb.

4. O Come, thou Lord of David's Key!
The royal door fling wide and free;
Safeguard for us the heavenward road,
And bar the way to death's abode.

5. O come, O come, Adonai,
Who in thy glorious majesty
From that high mountain clothed in awe,
Gavest thy folk the elder Law. 

The best interpretation of this hymn (on youtube), in English, is the performance by the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge. Timothy Brown is the conductor. Here it is!

And here is the (original) Latin version of this hymn, splendidly performed here by L'Accorche-Choeur, Ensemble vocal Fribourg.



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