The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

You Came, God's Loving Wisdom, From On High

For Christmas

Words: Veni, Veni, Emanuel (the "O" Antiphons),
Authorship Unknown, 8th Century Latin;
Published As A Hymn in Psalteriolum Cantionum Catholicarum, 7th Edition, KŲln, 1710.

Translated from Latin to English by John Mason Neale, Draw Nigh, Draw Nigh, Emmanuel
in Mediaeval Hymns and Sequences, 1851.
Adapted by
Dr. Steve H. Hakes  © 2015; Used with permission.

Music: "Veni Emmanuel," Based on a 15th Century French Processional,
Arranged by Rev. Thomas Helmore  and harmonized by Rev. S. S. Greatheed in
Hymnal Noted, Part II (London: 1856)

Accompanying Harmonies to the Hymnal Noted-Part II
(London: 1858)
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML
Melody Only: MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML

Meter: 88 88 88

Source: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,
Dr. Steve H. Hakes, Lyricology Hub: Christian Songs for Life

Compare: O Come, O Come Emmanuel
See: Notes on Veni, Veni, Emmanuel

1. You came Godís loving wisdom from on high
with him you did make earth and sea and sky 
creating man from just dust and clay 
now you have made a new and living way

We now, rejoice, our lord Emmanuel
you came to save your Israel.

2. You came in truth to save us Adonai 
who to the tribes on height of Sinai 
in ancient times gave Moses your law 
in cloud and majesty and holy awe.

3. You came of ancient royal line to free 
the slaves from Satanís pitch black tyranny 
from depth of hell lost people to save 
and give them victory beyond the grave.

4. You came to give us all a royal throne 
to open up your heavens for our home 
to make the way that has set us free 
and close the path to deathís dark misery.

5. You came as radiance to replace our night 
and cheered us by the bright dawn of your light 
dispersed the gloom and clouds of our night 
our futile shadows you have put to flight.

6. You came O glorious prince of peace, in you 
manís hopes of peace were by death born anew 
and we who have bowed down to your call 
are better than we were before the Fall.

7. You came you came, our lord Emmanuel 
to ransom once held captive Israel 
that mourned alone in dark exile here 
until to set us free you did appear.

Notes by Dr. Hakes:

The substructure, as Veni, veni Emmanuel, seems to date from the 12th century or earlier. It was translated into English in the 19th century.01 It was written as a pre-Christmas Advent reflection, sung in the persona of Ethnic Israel awaiting her messiah, yet doubling for Christians awaiting the Parousia. It asks Jesus about Jesus [and himself!] returning, specifically, returning to save his lost people. Visualisation is patchy, and if unexplained, some might sing with the idea that it's to encourage pre-messianic Ethnic Israel to await the Second Advent, as a shared hope with Christians. It confuses singer with vision. If we are singing as pre-incarnation Israel, then it's not [Rod of Jesse ... give them victory], but [Rod of Jesse ... give us victory]: let their shoes become ours - we are thy people, bless them? Unless we are singing to Jesus about another Jesus, then not [come, Emmanuel ... Israel... mourns ... Until the Son of God appear], but [come, Emmanuel ... we Israel ... mourn ... Until you Son of God [do] appear] or some such. The song loses the focus.

In my book Israel's Gone Global, I have argued that Israel is a term with many layers, including the messianic community as the NT church, and that at least some terms analogous to Ethnic Israel may be applied to it. For example, we are the true diaspora, the true church of the wilderness, as well as in another sense the true church in the Promised Land. In Christ, we have entered the Promised Land vis-a-vis our prior captivity and wanderings. Yet vis-ŗ-vis the ultimate dimension of eternal life, we are but wanderers still awaiting the Promised Land. In other words, Promised Land has layers of reality. This is likely to have been the original approach behind the song, which seems to have been a later paraphrase of earlier advent antiphonies.02 In its Latin original, there were 7 stanzas, one for each successive day from Dec. 17 through Dec. 23. Each had a supposed Isaianic title of Christ, and when you arrived at the stanza for Dec. 23, you could take the first letter from each of the titles of Christ reading backwards to the 17th, and see that they were ERO CRAS, which is a Latin phrase for "I will come tomorrow." A touch of genius, lost in translation. I would change its tardisial03 nature, and sing it as fait accompli - the redeemer has come. Hence Vinit, venit, Emmanual.

Footnote by Dr. Hakes

1. Lyrics to O Come, O Come Emmanuel from The Center for Church Music - Songs & Hymns. <>.

2. Hymn detail to O Come, O Come Emmanuel from The Center for Church Music - Songs & Hymns. <>

3. By which I mean it can travel in time, whether to the Birth or 10,000 years forward when "we've no less days to sing God's praise than when we first begun". Return

Editor's Note:

This carol is the result of work by Dr. Steve H. Hakes, who created the website Lyricology in order to help authors improve their songs. He writes:

Lyricology is dedicated to the proposition that not all songs are created equal, that the most important songs are Christian songs, and that Christian songs that do not perform well, let down the faith they claim to serve. Christian songs that perform well, lift hearts & minds in joy. The site encourages the bad to become good, the good to become better, the better to become best, and the best to be loved.

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