O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

This beautiful hymn was written in the twelfth century and was probably first sung by monks as a plainsong Latin chant. It has a haunting melody which mysteriously connects us with the past hopes of both Christian and Jewish people.

Emmanuel means ‘God with us’ in Hebrew, which became a special name for the long-awaited Messiah. It reminds us that Christ’s spirit is always with us and that the presence of God can still be felt across the world. When it was originally written, Europe was beginning to flourish again and the Light of Wisdom was being experienced after centuries of decline, which are known to us as the Dark Ages.

In our own everyday world, we can feel both isolated and vulnerable at times. Knowing God is with us, no matter what we face or experience can effectively encourage us to hold on to our faith and look for the light of God’s wisdom.

Points to Ponder

When have I felt the closeness of God in my life? How can I encourage others to feel the same?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are Emmanuel, the One who is with us at all times. When we feel fearful or lonely, be near to us. When we experience sadness or grief, embrace us. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

Today’s image is one of John’s Christmas drawings called ‘Star Messiah.’ If you would like to view a larger version, then please click here.

You can listen to this beautiful hymn, as sung by a traditional choir, on the following YouTube video: