O Come Emmanuel

There are hundreds of prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament. We learned some of them last week while studying the prophecies of Jesus’ birth. I came across too many to focus on but did find something intriguing- there are many Old Testament references to Jesus in the song “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Since it is one of my favorite Christmas carols, I wanted to take a closer look!

O Come Emmanuel-white bundle in manger in dark blue background with light shining in

History of O Come O Come Emmanuel 

The history of “O come, O come, Emmanuel” is traceable back to the 8th and 9th centuries. Documentation, including the title and words, dates back to 1710.¹

Historically, Benedictine monks chanted these words (in Latin) during the last week of Advent to prepare their hearts to celebrate Christmas.

We don’t know who wrote “O Come O Come Emmanuel”, but J.M. Heale, a priest and hymn writer, translated this anonymous hymn into English; originally only five verses. It was later published in a collection of hymns in 1851. Since then, additions include some slight adaptations and 2 additional verses.

The composer of the melancholy melody of the verses, followed by the more joyful refrain also remains anonymous. It has been traced, however, back to 15th century France.

While I love most Christmas carols, this one is different than most because it captures the difficult mood of waiting and longing mixed with the joy and excitement of Christ’s coming.

O Come Emmanuel Lyrics

This hymn/carol is the perfect expression of how we honor and worship His first coming. Looking carefully, we see it is a prayer within a song; expressing the characteristics and names of Jesus.

It also contains Old Testament references to Jesus. It helps us see how God’s plan would unfold at just the right time, with hints and promises predicting and leading up to His arrival.

The lyrics this author penned help us grow in these truths. Who knew?? We’re “hiding His word in our hearts” while we sing.😊

•O come, O come, Emmanuel,

And ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here,

Until the Son of God appear.


This prophecy of Jesus is noted in Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel.”  


“God with us”- How do you experience God WITH YOU in your life- right now, today?

Does His presence within the entire universe give you peace that He is in control?

God’s Holy Spirit lives within us. How often do you tap into the comfort, peace, and love that is only a whisper away?small Christmas garland of green leaves and red berries

•O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free

Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;

From depths of hell Thy people save,

And give them victory o’er the grave.

Rod of Jesse

Isaiah 11:1 NKJV– “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”

Jesse was King David’s father, and Jesus came from their lineage. It took hundreds of years for Jesus to appear as Messiah and King.

While the long wait may have left some feeling hopeless and that the “stump” was dead, a new living Branch budded forth at the exact time God intended. Jesus would become greater than the original “tree” of  Jesse and produce a bounty of fruit that is never-ending!


“Rod of Jesse”- What does this tell you about God’s timing? How have you seen God’s timing play out in your life?

 What fruit has Jesus produced in your life? Did any come from what seemed to be the impossible or take years for it to appear?

small Christmas garland of green leaves and red berries

•O come, Thou Dayspring, from on high,

And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,

And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Dayspring from on High-

Dayspring (to break forth) is used in the Bible to mean “the dawning day of morning light” or “rising sun.” John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah, uses the term to describe Messiah’s coming- 

“Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the dayspring from on high has visited us.” Luke 1:78 NKJV.

Isaiah 9:2 describes the Messiah in a similar way: 

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. 

Jesus refers to Himself as “the light of the world.” (John 8:12)


“Dayspring”- Is Jesus your Rising Son; the light of your world? In what way?

How do you express your thanks for His redemptive power to dispel “death’s dark shadow”?

What worldly “lights” tempt you to turn to them for protection, guidance, and security?

small Christmas garland of green leaves and red berries

•O come, Thou Key of David, come

And open wide our heav’nly home;

Make safe the way that leads on high,

And close the path of misery.

Key of David-

Isaiah 22:22– “I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens, no one can shut, and what he shuts, not one can open.”

In Bible times, the chief royal steward of the house would have the master key fastened to the shoulder of his tunic. No one could oppose his control. It gave him significant authority.

Jesus claims this authority over heaven and earth when He speaks to the church of Philadelphia in Revelation 3:7– “These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”

He has rescued us from the misery of hell and opened wide the doors to heaven. Our eternal home awaits!


“Key of David”- Jesus claims His authority by asserting He is holy and true. How does this help anchor your faith in Him?

He alone holds the key that unlocks the door to heaven. No one can lock you out! Does this give you stronger confidence in your salvation?

O come Emmanuel- empty manger with straw, light shining from behind, dark blue backgroundPin me for later!

•O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,

And order all things far and nigh;

To us the path of knowledge show,

And cause us in her ways to go..

The Spirit of Wisdom-

Isaiah describes Jesus in Isaiah 11:2- “the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding…”

Jesus’ wisdom is perfect. He not only has wisdom; He is wisdom.

Paul reminds us: “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God.”  (1 Corinthians 1:30 NKJV.)  Or in other words, Jesus showed us God’s wisdom in all His teachings and the way He lived His life. He has shown us the path we are to follow.


“Wisdom”- Jesus possesses perfect wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, and power. He understands everything about you and your life. He knows you inside and out- heart, soul, and mind.

Jesus has the perfect counsel to help you through any struggle you face. Can you then trust Him completely with your life? Are there times you hold back or try to figure things out on your own?

small Christmas garland of green leaves and red berries

•O come, Desire of Nations, bind

All people in one heart and mind;

Bid envy, strife, and quarrels cease;

Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.

(What a beautiful prayer for our world today!)

Desire of Nations– 

This prophecy comes from Haggai 2:7- “I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord Almighty.”

A bit of backstory on this verse: God instructed the Israelites to reconstruct the temple upon their return from captivity, but the work remained incomplete 15 years later!

The people were busy building their own homes instead. Haggai encourages them to connect the temple rebuilding with the coming Messiah in mind.

Jesus is the “desired of all nations” Haggai was referring to. Jesus would come 500 years later and grace the temple with His glory.


“Desire of Nations”- We now look forward to Christ’s second return. What has God asked you to do as you prepare for this day?

Are you dragging your feet with the work God has put on your heart? Be encouraged that your work for God will always have opposition- expect it! Call on His resources and strength to go forward!

Rejoice, Rejoice Emmanuel 

This joyful refrain celebrates Jesus’ first coming and is the promise that we hold to as we wait for Him to come again.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel

We rejoice in the birth of our Savior so long ago and now wait expectantly for Him to come again. As we wait, we are to rejoice! He is the One who brings true love, joy, wisdom, authority, power, and glorious light into our dark world.


“Rejoice”- Yes, we can rejoice in this Christmas season no matter what divisions, challenges, struggles, or trials we are experiencing.

Jesus, our Immanuel, shines His light over all these things to bring us hope and happiness. He is our source of genuine joy and promises to be with us always and forever. Let His people rejoice!

Meaning of O Come O Come Emmanuel 

This Christmas carol describes the many characteristics of Jesus as the prophesied Messiah. These lyrics are just as relevant today as we wait for His second coming.

As you hear this song in the coming days, try to pick out the names of Jesus and remember why they are attributed to Him. I’ve been doing this ever since I learned these connections and it brings so much more meaning and awe into the song!

This Emmanuel Christmas song connects us to the lives of those who were anxiously expecting His first arrival and the joy of those who lived through His miraculous birth and life here on earth.

It also gives us a voice as people who long for His return. When you sing this song this Christmas, remember that you are joining with voices from the past 1,200+ years!

These lyrics remind us of promises kept, His love in action, and His magnificent power and authority. They strengthen our faith and give us great hope.

We sing this song with great expectation, knowing He is coming again to bring perfect peace and unite every people, tribe, and nation! Come, Lord Jesus!

Christmas Blessings!



Photo Credit: Deposit Photos, Canva

All Scripture is the NIV unless otherwise specified.

4 thoughts on “O Come Emmanuel”

    1. I’m so glad you liked it Tammy! I feel the same way, and I’ve started listening carefully to other Christmas songs as well… Thank you and have a blessed Christmas as well!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top