It is that time of year again, Christmas music time! I’m quite particular about listening to Christmas music throughout the year. Every now and then I’ll listen to a Christmas song if it comes up on iTunes, but the closer it gets to December the more likely I am to skip it because it isn’t time yet. As we all know, the correct time it is acceptable for Christmas music to start playing is anytime after Thanksgiving, and I always hold out until then. I usually listen throughout December, past Christmas, and on till about the 7th of January. There isn’t really another season with its own theme music(the recent attempt at a thanksgiving song doesn’t count), and all of the songs just make this time of year that little bit more special.
My favorite classic Christmas song is one by the name of O Come O Come Emmanuel. A brief history: the song is translated from an older Ecclesiastical Latin text called Veni, veni, Emmanuel, written sometime between the 8th and 12th century, which was based upon the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14.
14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel(meaning God with us).
At this time, the nation of Israel was currently held captive by Assyria(I think) wondering how they could have come to this. God’s chosen people had been beaten and overtaken. This is not how it was supposed to be. How will Israel escape its current setting and how can it possible get better? It really is a depressing time, which I think sets the mood for the song.
Its fairly short, the lyrics follow a very simple and similar structure, its a bit repetitive at times, but it is a song full of longing.
Israel knows of the existence of what they yearn for, but He is nowhere to be found. They, and we, are in an agony that currently nothing on earth can satisfy. Every verse is literally the begging for something greater to come and end their suffering; free us from being enslaved, lead us to the age to come, come back to us Lord. The song never arrives to the time when Emmanuel does come. Israel doesn’t get saved before the music ends. Instead the verses all end with the hope that God will be with us someday and we are to rejoice in that.
Perhaps that is why I like it, because at its core it isn’t necessarily a Christmas song. It is a song about us in the present day, still struggling in the same places as Israel way back in the Old Testament.
Today we are awaiting the very same Jesus to come and redeem us.