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O Come O Come Emmanuel

This traditional Advent hymn is our gathering piece in the season of Advent.  We sing it with the song leader leading the congregation in echoing each phrase.

We sing a version with updated lyrics by Philip Cunningham and Ken Meltz

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And with your people always dwell
Who mourn in mortal exile here
Until the Lord of Life appear
(Chorus) Rejoice, rejoice
Emmanuel shall come again and with us ever dwell

O come, Redeemer of the slave
The shackled Hebrews you did save
And then your covenant was sealed
The Torah on the Mount revealed

O come, O God’s revealing Word
Your voice the Hebrew prophets heard
They sw that one day war will cease
And all creation be at peace

O come, O Wisdom from on high
Who bring the truth of Adonai
To us the path of knowledge show
And teach us in your ways to go

O come, Incarnate Word revealed
Your people you both taught and healed
You trusted Abba’s love would save
And so were raised up from the grave

O come, O Lamb of God who was slain
You underwent our human pain
Dispel our fear of endless night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight

O come, O Bread of Heav’n sublime
Who come to us in bread and wine
Still sacraments will one day cease
In God’s eternal reign of peace

Here’s a teaching recording of the melody, but with older lyrics which we no longer use.

Here is the sheet music with the updated lyrics.

Because many people are habituated to the older lyrics, when leading the song, introduce it by saying “you may be familiar with this tune, but these words will be different. so listen carefully and echo me.”

A further note on the updated the lyrics:

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is a beloved hymn, yet with a growing sensitivity to the ways Christianity embodies antisemitic theologies in its traditional prayers and hymns and even it scriptures, vigilance requires revision of problematic texts. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is one of those. In short, the hymn’s more-or-less traditional lyrics (though there are variations) are pretty well summed up by an outdated and problematic understanding of the relationship of the New Testament to the Old Testament, and therefore also of the Church to Israel: The Old Testament was understood to have spiritual validity only when read in reference to Christ and the Church, and Israel was seen as spiritually valid only as the precursor to Christianity. Read more about this here (under Educational Resources > Advent resources), and look forward to a thoughtfully revised version of this beloved hymn each week during Advent. Thanks especially to the Rev’d Liz Edman for pressing this issue.

Click here to listen to O Come O Come Emmanuel.

Click here to look at the sheet music!

Posted in: Songs We Sing

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