Throughout this 2015 Advent season, the Sojourn family of churches has come together to record a series of Advent hymns for your enjoyment and edification. Each Thursday, we’ll be releasing one song together with a blog post.

This week’s release is a rearrangement of the classic Advent hymn O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. The lyrics, originally written in the 8th century, were adapted as a Latin carol in the 12th century and translated into English in 1851. This hymn is unique in that it’s written from the perspective of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, a nation that mourned “in lonely exile.” But even in exile, without a home, God promised to restore them, unite them, and send them a Savior. Israel awaited the advent of the “Rod of Jesse” prophesied in Isaiah 11:1-5. 

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

Jesus Christ is the Rod of Jesse. And we can sing with Israel even today because Jesus has established the Church as the true Israel of God (Galatians 6:16). In singing this song, we affirm the unity of God’s people throughout the history of redemption. Our Israelite brothers and sisters faithfully awaited the First Advent of Christ, and we now enjoy the object of their longing. But we also sing this song for ourselves, longing for our Savior to come again in glory and to rule and reign over the earth.

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.

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