O COME, O COME, EMMANUEL!
We are officially in the Advent Season, which is observed every year from the fourth Sunday before Christmas up until Christmas day. Growing up in the Anglican church, we had specific hymns that were sang for different occasions. One of the most popular Advent hymns (which is sometimes sang as a Christmas carol) is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel! “ I have heard and sung this hymn so many times in the past, but this year, the words jumped right out at me and took a totally new meaning.
Following the trauma of, first the out break of the corona virus pandemic, then the subsequent lock down that caused fear and panic, the deaths from complications arising from the COVID and then here in Nigeria, the #ENDSARS protests and the horror of the “LEKKI Massacre”; the world is suddenly beginning to feel like we are all trapped and there is nowhere to hide. In Nigeria, quite honestly it feels like bondage. There is fear And it is palpable. There is uncertainty and morale is low. There is tension. And even though it is the Christmas season, the joy and good cheer is not like we normally feel it at this time of the year. How did we get here? I cannot tell you but I can encourage you by letting you know we are definitely not going to remain here.
Let me share with us some of the words of the hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”; and let us see how very appropriate they are for exactly a time such as this. As you read them, let the words be a consolation that things cannot go on like this forever. There is indeed a Saviour and a Messiah who is coming to save us and save the entire world. Maybe even sooner than we think. As you read these words, please let your heart no longer be troubled, fret no longer. Rather be expectant that help is on the way. The refrain says over and over again “Rejoice, Rejoice, Immanuel, shall come to you, O Israel.” How reassuring is that! Let us now rejoice knowing that Jesus (Our Emmanuel) shall come to us (Israel.). As He comes to us there shall be no more tears, no more sorrow, no more pain. He will set us free from oppression and every form of captivity. He will rescue us and save us.
The sixth stanza refers to Jesus as the “Bright and Morning Star” who will “bring us comfort from afar!”, who will “Dispel the shadows of the night” and who will “turn our darkness into light”. Please no matter what we have seen or heard, no matter what is brewing underground, let the above words help us to stand firm. We all need to be comforted, especially those who have lost something or someone in these times. I pray that comfort from afar will come to us in Jesus name. Literally on the night of October 20, 2020; there were shadows in the night, they scared us, they hurt us, they terrified us, they alarmed and frightened us. Some of us are still in shock and some are still terribly traumatised, but Rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to our Israel. He will turn every darkness into light.
Please read with me below, the words from Stanzas 1, 4, 6 and 7, and reflect on them, while trusting that, Jesus, our Emmanuel, will not leave us without comfort and help.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel Lyrics
1.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 you, O Israel.
4. O come, O Branch of Jesse’s stem,
unto your own and rescue them!
From depths of hell your people save,
and give them victory o’er the grave. Refrain
6. O come, O Bright and Morning Star,
and bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night
and turn our darkness into light. Refrain
7. O come, O King of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace. Refrain
Translated (from the original Latin) to English by J. M. Neal in 1851
*Please note that each verse refers to Jesus Christ by a name from the Old Testament, and that is really who Jesus is to Israel and to us. And ultimately., His peace shall reign.
Therefore, REJOICE, JESUS, OUR EMMANUEL WILL COME SOON.
OLUYINKA EGO-MARTINS ©