“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
Isaiah 7:14 (KJV)
The roots of the music of Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel! go back to the 15th century.1 The Messianic titles in the lyrics, called the O Antiphons, are from the Old Testament, and their use in liturgy goes back to the 8th century.2
“The first letters of the titles taken backwards form a Latin acrostic of “Ero Cras” which translates to “Tomorrow, I will come”, mirroring the theme of the antiphons.”3
It is one of the oldest songs heard during the Advent season. This video features an anonymous cornet soloist from Trefor, Wales.
“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son…”
UPDATE: In the comments my husband, Doug, writes,
In the December 2010 Jews for Jesus newsletter, Ceil Rosen writes about a high school chorus Christmas program she was in, which included this song: “Though we had rehearsed those words many times, I suddenly found myself pondering their meaning. Was there something true about Jesus being for us Jews?”
I found a link to Ceil Rosen’s story when she told it in 1978: Then I Met Messiah.
Alternate lyrics: Lutheran Worship hymnal, ECUSA 1871.
1O come, O come, Emmanuel, Tunes: Veni Emmanuel, Hymnary.org
2, 3O antiphons: Wikipedia.
Original content: Copyright ©2010 Iwana Carpenter