Fourth Sunday in Advent: Immanuel   Leave a comment

Prophet Isaiah, Russian icon from first quarte...

Prophet Isaiah, Russian icon from first quarter of 18th cen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Isaiah, 7: 10-14:

‘And the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, “Ask ye a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.”  And he said, “Hear ye now, O house of David; is it a small thing for you to weary men, that ye will weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel…” ‘

The Advent hymn, ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel‘ is based on these verses, and was one of the Latin ‘antiphons’ which were sung in the Early Church during the week leading up to Christmas, dating from as early as the sixth century. There were seven of them, one sung on each of the days from the 17th to the 24th. However, some time in twelfth century five of them were put together into one hymn. Each described Christ in a different way, as Emmanuel, ‘God with us‘, ‘the Root of Jesse’ (Isaiah, 11:10), ‘the Dayspring’ (Malachi 4:2), ‘the Key of David’ (Isaiah 22:22) and ‘the Lord of Might’ (Exodus 3:15). In 1851-4, J M Neale translated these five verses into a hymn in English, which has always been accompanied by the tune ‘Veni Immanuel’, a French adaptation of a plainsong ‘Kyrie’, arranged by Thomas Helmore, an Anglican clergyman who led the revival of Gregorian chant in Britain. The five verses are still sung in Advent, and the hymn remains very popular. The third verse is very poignant at present, as at many other times in history:

‘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:

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Posted December 21, 2014 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

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