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Hymns of Advent - O Come, O Come Emmanuel


WORLD Radio - Hymns of Advent - O Come, O Come Emmanuel

A plaintive cry for God to act on our behalf

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NICK EICHER, HOST: This Sunday marks the first week of Advent. Over the next four weeks Christians around the world will prepare for—and reflect on—the coming of Christ.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: At the close of each Friday’s program, from now till Christmas, correspondent Bonnie Pritchett will guide us through a selection of Advent hymns.

And just a quick note, we’re creating a Spotify Playlist again this year. We’ll keep it updated throughout the month so you can find the music for your own enjoyment. We’ve included the link to that in today’s transcript at wng.org/podcasts.

EICHER: Here now is Bonnie Pritchett.

BONNIE PRITCHETT, CORRESPONDENT: Advent is intended to draw Christian hearts forward in preparation of Christmas Day. But some hymns take our thoughts back in time.

From its opening verse, O Come, O Come Emmanuel, does just that as in this 2016 version by JJ Heller.

SINGING: O Come, o come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lowly exile here, until the Son of God appear…

Written in the 4th or 5th century, O Come, O Come Emmanuel is thought to have been sung during Epiphany in preparation for the baptism of new Christians.

But by the 9th century, it became part of Advent observances. Englishman John Neale translated it from the original Latin into English.

The hymn’s 15th century melody sung in a minor key underscores the lyric’s plaintive cry for God to act on our behalf: To come; order all things; bring comfort; and be our King of Peace. Andrew Peterson’s 2019 instrumental version highlights that tension.


As Christians await the completion of Christ’s redeeming work, the hymn writer reminds us He will come. The song’s chorus, sung in this 2016 version by Salt of Sound, reminds believers that while we wait, we should “Rejoice.”

VOICE: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Bonnie Pritchett.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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