O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

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O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel

Translator: J. M. Neale (1851)
Opening Hymns
Published in 490 hymnals

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Representative Text

1 O come, O come, Immanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

2 O come, O Wisdom from on high,
who ordered all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show
and teach us in its ways to go. Refrain

3 O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to your tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times did give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe. Refrain

4 O come, O Branch of Jesse's stem,
unto your own and rescue them!
From depths of hell your people save,
and give them victory o'er the grave. Refrain

5 O come, O Key of David, come
and open wide our heavenly home.
Make safe for us the heavenward road
and bar the way to death's abode. Refrain

6 O come, O Bright and Morning Star,
and bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night
and turn our darkness into light. Refrain

7 O come, O King of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace. Refrain

Psalter Hymnal (Gray)

Translator: J. M. Neale

John M. Neale's life is a study in contrasts: born into an evangelical home, he had sympathies toward Rome; in perpetual ill health, he was incredibly productive; of scholarly tem­perament, he devoted much time to improving social conditions in his area; often ignored or despised by his contemporaries, he is lauded today for his contributions to the church and hymnody. Neale's gifts came to expression early–he won the Seatonian prize for religious poetry eleven times while a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, England. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1842, but ill health and his strong support of the Oxford Movement kept him from ordinary parish ministry. So Neale spent the years between 1846 and 1866 as a warden of Sackvi… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel
Title: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Latin Title: Veni, veni Emmanuel
Translator: J. M. Neale (1851)
Source: Latin, c. 12th century; Ancient Antiphons (Latin), versified in 18th century
Language: English
Refrain First Line: Gaude, gaude, Emmanuel
Notes: Spanish translation: "Oh ven, oh ven Emanuel" by Federico Pagura
Copyright: Public Domain
Liturgical Use: Opening Hymns


The text for "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" comes from a 7 verse poem that dates back to the 8th century. It was used in a call and response fashion during the vespers, or evening, service. The original text created the reverse acrostic "ero cras," which means "I shall be with you tomorrow," and is particularly appropriate for the advent season. A metrical version of five of the verses appeared in the 13th century, which was translated into English by J.M. Neale in 1851. Each of the five verses expounds upon one of the names for the Messiah:

"Emmanuel" (Isaiah 7:14, Mt 1:23) means "God with us"
"Adonai" (Exodus 19:16) is a name for God, the giver of the law
"Branch of Jesse" (Isaiah 11:1) refers to Jesus' lineage
"Oriens" (Malachi 4:2, Luke 1:78-79) is the morning star or daystar
"Key of David" (Isaiah 22:22) again refers to Jesus' lineage

--Greg Scheer, 1994



VENI IMMANUEL was originally music for a Requiem Mass in a fifteenth-century French Franciscan Processional. Thomas Helmore (b. Kidderminster, Worcestershire, England, 1811; d. Westminster, London, England, 1890) adapted this chant tune and published it in Part II of his The Hymnal Noted (1854). A g…

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