O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Posted by james0235 on December 2, 2007
Since Advent is now upon us I thought I would post something about the origins of the popular Christmas hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”. This will probably bore most who read this to death. But I find it fascinating.
“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is based on 7 Latin prayers dating back to at least the 8th century. The prayers in Latin begin with the words:
O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
O Adonai (O Lord)
O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
O Clavis David (O Key of David)
O Oriens (O Day-Spring)
O Rex Gentium (O King of the Gentiles)
O Emmanuel – (this one is obvious.)
One is prayed each night from Dec 17 to Dec 23rd during Vespers (Evening Prayer). And it is like a countdown to the incarnation. If you take the first letter of the first word of each prayer (not counting the “O”) and read them backwards it spells “Ero Cras” which is Latin for “Tomorrow I will be”. Because on the next night God became man. Now, how cool is that?
The 7 prayers, called the “O Antiphons” are below. First is the orignal prayer in Latin taken from a book called the Roman Breviary. Next is an English version of the prayer taken from a book known as the Anglican Breviary. The Anglican Breviary itself is for the most part just a translation of the Roman Breviary. And last is the verse from “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” that was inspired by the prayer.
O Sapientia, qui ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
O Wisdom, which camest out of the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come and teach us the way of prudence.
O Come, O Wisdom from on high,
who orders all things mightily,
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.
O Adonai, et dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.
O Adonai, and leader of the house of Israel, who didst appear to Moses in the flame of the burning bush, and didst give unto him the law on Sinai: come and with an outstretched arm redeem us.
O Come, O Come, thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times didst give the law,
In cloud and majesty, and awe.
O Radix Jesse (Isaiah 11:10)
O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.
O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, before whom kings shall keep silence, whom the Gentiles shall beseech: come and deliver us, and tarry not.
O Come, O 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 Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel, qui aperis, et nemo claudit, claudis, et nemo aperit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O Key of David, and scepter of the house of Israel, that openest and no man shutteth, and shuttest and no man openeth: come and bring the prisoner forth from the prison-house, and him that sitteth in darkness and in the shadow of death.
O Come, thou key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the path that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
O Oriens (Psalm107:10)
O Oriens, splendo lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O Day-Spring, brightness of light eternal, and Sun of Justice, come and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
O Come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer,
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
O King of the Gentiles and the desire thereof, Thou cornerstone that makest both one, come and delver mankind, whom Thou didst form out of clay.
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.
O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, expectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster.
O Emmanuel, our king and lawgiver, the desire of nations and the Savior thereof, come to save us, O lord our God.
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!