Originally written in Latin almost 10 centuries earlier, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is a hymn based on prayers. These prayers, called vespers, are prayed for 7 days before the celebration of Christmas.
I’ve always loved the reality of living in seasons. Just like the seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter, there are different seasons in the divine and human journey. There are highs and lows as well as the louds and softs that come with each season. As with every season, one isn’t whole without the season before it. The same is true with Christmas. Christmas isn’t Christmas without the season before it, Advent.
The text of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is based on the biblical prophecy from Isaiah 7:14. It states that God will give Israel a sign that will be called Immanuel, literally meaning “God with us.” But there needed to be an arrival of that truth. As well, there needed to be a waiting for God to come to truly appreciate His arrival. Matthew 1:23 states fulfillment of this prophecy in the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.
There is Good News in the reality that Jesus is with us, but there is also Good News of knowing He is coming again. So in that mystery, we can be in a sense of solidarity with those who were waiting for the Messiah to come; and those who, throughout the history of the Church, have been waiting for His return.