O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

May we never lose our sense of awe at the fact that God chooses to be with us.

Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23

At Christmastime, we sing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” a hymn that includes ancient chants known as the “O Antiphons.”* In 6th-century worship, each “O” was followed by a messianic title: Emmanuel, Root of Jesse, Dayspring, Key of David, Lord of Might, Desire of Nations. These names for the Savior remind us that in Jesus, God fulfilled the hopes of His people. And we can observe His faithfulness both historically and in the present, with hope for the future.

The hymn hinges on the name Emmanuel (or Immanuel), meaning “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). As John says, “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus is not merely a good teacher or prophet—He is God Incarnate, the wisdom of God in human form. That truth is the foundation of our hope.

As we try to embody Jesus’ teachings, our prayer should be to walk as His wise followers in the world (Ephesians 5:15). That means living faithfully in a kingdom that is both here now and still to come. We also pray that our Emmanuel will draw many people—“from every tribe, language, … and nation” (Revelation 5:9)—to Himself, until the whole earth is filled with the knowledge of God’s glory (Habakkuk 2:14; Psalm 72:19).