Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rejoice! Rejoice! O Come Immanuel

As we come closer to Christmas Eve I am reminded of a hymn we sang in church this past Sunday.

Indeed, the song hasn’t really left me except for the moment I was singing “It’s Wonderful Neighbourhood” in response to how cold it was yesterday (I had to – in the face of such cruel adversity it’s a frivolous means of creating some cheer).

The hymn has such a memorable tune that beckons to be whistled. Of course, a certain power is found in the refrain:

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

I recall while singing it to finding the baritones notes and the parsing in the last words, “come to thee, O Is-ra-el.” In the instant my spirit was lifted up.

There is a history to the composition of this hymn, which unfortunately I currently cannot afford to research (perhaps later).

However, whether there is bearing to the following Scripture, Philippians 4:4-7, I do find a parallel in these words:

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Advent is of course a time of waiting. We are encouraged to not draw faint in our hopes for the return of our LORD. Paul writes that we should take heart that through good year and bad, God is willing and able to hear your prayers. He is near. He will save you through the Christ Jesus. He will come to thee.

In this year I have had both portions of good and bad. It seems when you do an accounting of progress, the bad scrapes tend to have prominence. Oh well: a failed relationship and a loss of a parent. Perhaps I did not re-create as much as I wanted, either. My body is breaking down in places I would rather it did not. On the other side of the balance sheet some of my friendships have strengthened and I feel a greater confidence in myself through my involvement in my local church. In spite of everything, I can declare I feel my understanding of God has grown. I am inclined to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit more often, which means I am more cognizant of it in my daily walk. Therefore, the words, Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel, has more pertinence.

I hope you who read this can say the same of your relationship with the LORD. If not, take heart and be encouraged, for He is near.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.¶

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.¶


O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.¶


O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.¶


O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.¶


O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.¶


O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.¶


O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.¶


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