O Come O Come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel…
This hymn may seem like it doesn’t fit in the category of praise, until we remember how its sometimes in our darkest days that we are able to experience God the most.
When we encounter Him at our lowest, we cannot help but change our song of lament into a new song of praise.
Isaiah 64:1-2 reminds us how God’s people had been crying out for a Deliverer, beyond the kings, prophets and judges they had asked for.
Humanity came to realize it could not save itself. It needed a Deliverer to set it free from its captivity to sin.
Only God could fix what humanity had broken in the Garden, but continued to dig deeper and deeper over time.
This hymn reminds me of the cry for freedom we all have deep within us, if we are all honest with the state of our hearts when we choose to be left to our own devices.
Those who have tasted the freedom God offers desire to become freer, as we learn to place more of ourselves into His loving hands.
The Deliverer Israel was wanting was the same one that miraculously freed them from Egypt, parted water before them, fed and clothed them in the desert.
The same one who gave them a new home, a new hope and a fresh start as He guides them into the Promised Land.
The same one they turned away from as they looked more at the gift instead of the Giver.
They allowed their eyes to wander from His wonder and gaze upon the wonderlands of earth.
What they came to realize as foreign nations subjugated them over and over?
The God they had turned away from had never turned away from them.
And the lament which that realization stirs within each of us who have wandered is echoed in the haunting strains of O Come O Come Emmanuel.
But the author(s) of this song doesn’t leave us only with the lament of those who know they are the chosen people, and long for restoration.
He trusted in the Promises, and because of his hope, could pen the chorus of this hymn which has rung out over the ages:
Emmanuel shall come to us,
The author was likely one or more monks over 1200 years ago. An Anglican minister John Mason Neale first translated it from the Latin, and the melody has been attributed to Henry Sloane Coffin and Thomas Helmore to reach the version we sing to Him today!