“Therefore the LORD Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and she will name Him Immanuel.” – Isaiah
John Neale was a brilliant student with a passion for the Gospel. After he finished preparing for the ministry, some were concerned that he was too evangelical, too different. As a result, as a minister, he was assigned to the remote island of Madeira, located five hundred miles west of Morocco.
It was there in 1851 that he discovered “O Come, O Come, Immanuel,” a hymn written in the ninth century by an unknown author. Neale translated the hymn into English, and it soon became a favorite Christmas hymn that is still sung worldwide.
This hymn has a powerful Messianic message, telling of the hope Immanuel would bring freedom to Israel, which is a “captive” and “mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.” There is joy in the promise that “Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”
The melody accompanying these words is in a minor key reminding us of our problems on earth as well as the hymn’s ancient origins. The text reminds us that Jesus will “take us home.” Truly, we are exiles and should be eager for Him to come again.
At Christmas, we celebrate that Immanuel has already come. We know that He is with us in our daily lives, and we rejoice that He is our soon-coming King.
When you sing this song, renew your declaration that Jesus is Immanuel, Messiah. In every circumstance, be of good cheer. Because of Jesus, God is with you!
Reflect on the fact that Immanuel is always with you—even in tough times.
Father, thank You that Jesus has come and that I am free because of Him. Thank You that Jesus came to rescue me and give me life. In His name, amen.
Today’s Bible Reading