Reading ancient writers feels like connecting with a past long lost. Their stories and songs echo across the years and even centuries delivering an ongoing message of hope and healing to which I cling. To know that a Spanish monk from the 15th century struggled like me, with God’s silence speaks hope and comfort to this weary traveler. To read John Newton’s words to so many of his songs and have them express exactly what I’m feeling is nothing short of amazing.
Communion of saints.
Surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.
Echoes of saints past.
Koininea across the ages.
Whatever you call it, it makes me feel less lonely to know that my experience isn’t unique; others have gone before.

On the radio this morning, I heard “O Come O Come Emmanuel”.
It’s not bright and cheery like Hark the Herald Angels Sing or Joy to the World. The tune is slow and melancholy and the words have more of a pleading, begging tone than a praising one. But I love it. It’s one of my favorites. The second (or sometimes 3rd) verse, “Come thou Day spring come and cheer our hearts by thine advent here. Dispel the gloomy clouds of night and deaths dark shadows bring to light” always brings me to tears and speaks peace to my heart.

Veni Emmanuel, written originally in Latin in the 12th century, has Catholic origins.
Chanted antiphonally until the 16th century,I imagine monks in black robes at vespers calling out to one another over ancient marble in arched cathedrals. The music developed over the centuries and has is origins in France. The words weren’t translated into English until the early 1800’s.
Across the ages, the pleading call for a Savior is not diminished. The need for Veni Emmanuel is the same today as it was 900 years ago and His presence and promise are just as real.

Veni Emmanuel
Veni, veni Emmanuel;
Captivum solve Israel,
Qui gemit in exilio,
Privatus Dei Filio.

Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
Nascetur pro te, Israel!

Veni, veni, O Oriens;
Solare nos adveniens,
Noctis depelle nebulas,
Dirasque noctis tenebras.

Veni, Clavis Davidica!
Regna reclude caelica;
Fac iter tutum superum,
Et claude vias inferum.

Veni, veni Adonai!
Qui populo in Sinai,
Legem dedisti vertice,
In maiestate gloriae.

English translation…

O Come O Come Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, 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.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times did’st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.


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