O_come_emmanuel_1 I absolutely love the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”  The haunting minor melody gives voice to the longing reflected in the lyrics.  If you haven’t grown up in a tradition that sings this song every year, you have to hear the melody to understand what I mean.  This link will take you to a beautiful rendition of the song, including some lovely graphics. When I looked online for a copy of the lyrics, I found many different versions.  It seems that there are at least seven different verses.  I wonder which are the originals and which have been written in more recent times.  Here is one version that had three of my favorite verses, including the best known first verse.

O come, O come, Immanuel,
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
And order all things, far and nigh;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And cause us in her ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Desire of nations, bind
All peoples in one heart and mind;
Bid envy, strife, and quarrels cease;
Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.

We no longer have to yearn for a Messiah.  As Christians, we believe that our prayers for deliverance were answered on that first Christmas.  Rejoice, Rejoice!  Immanuel HAS already come to thee!!  While we may sing this song this Sunday, we are likely to also sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” or “Joy to the World”…songs that celebrate His arrival among us.  Our longing for a Saviour is no longer, for He has come.  For unto us a Child is born.

Yet, longing and yearning are still words to which we feel a connection.  I still hear the haunting melody of this song and recognize the feeling which it evokes.  For what do we long?  As Christians who have already met this Son of God, this Newborn King, for what are we waiting this Advent?

I think it has something to do with the second two verses that I have copied above.  I think we are longing for the wisdom, order, knowledge, unity and peace of which those verses speak. We long for those things individually and collectively.  We long for the “thy Kingdom come” part…the “on earth as it is in heaven” part.  Christ was born in Bethlehem on Christmas, but He is still being born in us continually.  Our salvation, our deliverance is already…but not quite yet.  We who are hoping to be transformed, recognize that we have a long way to go.  The world we see around us does not fit with the vision we believe God has for the world.  And so, even as we Rejoice, we long for that which is still to come…a deeper understanding and manifestation of Immanuel, God With Us.