No sooner had the Thanksgiving dressing been put away to become a late-afternoon football snack than the Christmas decor began to make its grand entrance from almost a year’s worth of being stored away!
Isn’t this story so true in many of our homes? Seems like some folks
have been ready to unleash Burl Ives, Ray Conniff, Mitch Miller and Jose Feliciano since mid-August…but alas, we can hold them off no longer. For the season of anticipating Christmas is finally here…the Advent of Christ is upon us according to the Christian Calendar.
Maybe it is the weather of the last few days (both at home and in Chicago), but I’ve been thinking about the lyrics of one of my favorite Christmas hymns which guides us through the advent story so well…and does so with such a potent lyrical connection for us today that I really can’t wait to start singing it.
The words find their origins as early as the mid-late 12th century and were translated (or believed to be translated) by John Mason Neale around 1851.
The music finds its origin in the Libera Me, from the funeral mass of the Catholic Mass. It was called Veni Emmanuel as early as the late 15th century when it was paired with the ancient text by a group of Fransiscan Nuns. It’s scriptural connection, throughout each verse we know and those left out of modern hymnody is obvious. We see Isaiah 7:14 “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. The Rod of Jesse refers to Isaiah 11:1: “There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse;” Jesse was, of course, the father of David, second king of Israel. Day-Spring comes from Zacharias, father of John the Baptist, in Luke 1:78: “The dayspring from on high has visited us.” “Thou Key of David” is in Isaiah 22:22: “The key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder,” which in turn refers to Isaiah 9:6: “The government shall be upon His shoulder.” I’ll explore each other verse throughout this Advent season…
However, in light of the world’s recent events, terror and tragedy, and tragedy in the loss of family and friends in my own life in recent weeks, I find myself praying this prayer from one of the latter verses of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.
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.
Indeed…come, Emmanuel. Bring light & hope into our gloomy darkness!
soli deo gloria
D.J. Bulls is the Worship & Communication Minister at Riverside Church in Coppell, TX. He is a graduate of Abilene Christian University, the University of Texas, and currently a Doctoral Student in Church Music & Hymnody. He is husband to Meghan and father to Mackenzie…He loves baseball, the Texas Rangers, and Alabama Crimson Tide Football. He teaches music, leads worship, and gets to be a conductor for a wonderful semi-professional choral ensemble in the DFW MidCities called the MidCities Chamber Singers! He composes and arranges music, is on the executive team for the Timeless Psalter project and leads worship all over the country through Bulls’ Pen Music and Fearless4You Music.