O come, O come Emmanuel: One Savior, many titles.

“In Christ is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3)

What you observe of something on the surface doesn’t always give the complete picture of its actual substance. To many who look at Jesus, He appears to be nothing more than a good, moral teacher who left humanity with some principles for life that are worth pondering. It’s only when you dig deeper into Christ that you discover Jesus is unimaginably and unfathomably more.

“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is an ancient hymn that masterfully unpacks the hidden treasures of Christ by unveiling its own hidden treasures. Originally written by 8th-century monks, the hymn was used during Advent to set the expectation of Christ’s coming leading up to Christmas. It’s a beautiful song, but the true hidden gem lies within the structure of the poem. Seven days before Christmas Eve monasteries would sing the “O Antiphons” in anticipation of Christmas Eve. These were songs declaring different attributes of Jesus. In “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” these antiphons are gathered into one song and speak of the various titles of Jesus. Each verse of the hymn calls for Jesus to “come” and addresses a unique part of His identity and mission.

  • Jesus is Emmanuel (Isaiah 8:8) – Being “God with us,” Christ reveals to us the heart of God the Father.
  • Jesus is the Rod of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1) – Springing from a dead stump, He will free His people from Satan’s tyranny by death and resurrection, making them free forever.
  • Jesus is the Dayspring (Luke 1:78) – As the Light of the World, Jesus will shine God’s righteousness and banish darkness forever.
  • Jesus is the Key of David (Isaiah 22:22) – He alone holds the keys to life and death. He opens doors no man can shut and has unlocked the gate for us into heaven.
  • Jesus is the Desire of Nations (Haggai 2:7) – One day He will rule and reign over every nation, tribe, and tongue with His benevolent and mighty hand.

The song becomes an even more intriguing treasure when you discover that the antiphons create an acrostic, and when you reverse the acrostic, it becomes that Latin phrase “Ero Cras,” meaning “I will be present tomorrow.” It appears that even the early monks were hoping and praying for the quick return of Jesus! They also recognized that Jesus was ever present for every need. May this also be true of us in every area of life. For every longing and need we have, we must begin with the simple prayer, “O come, O come,  Jesus!” We will discover that Jesus isn’t merely the answer to our salvation; He is the answer to everything else as well.

 

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