Hymn of the day

by Richard on November 27, 2011

A change from Wesley today…

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel 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.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }


Kim 11.27.11 at 9:10 am

Chuck will come again in all his glory! ;)


Richard 11.27.11 at 11:00 am

Indeed he will. And I’m pretty sure about the day. And the hour, more or less!

Surprisingly (to me), I don’t think ‘O come, Emmanuel’ has never been “Hymn of the day” before.


Sarah 11.27.11 at 9:25 pm

Shocking Richard, how can it not have made an appearance before? One of the best advent hymns surely?


Richard 11.27.11 at 11:36 pm

One of the best, yes. But not by Mr Wesley, which is why I haven’t used it before I suppose. I’m sure that I’ve posted video versions of it, though.


Wood 11.28.11 at 9:20 am

I love this hymn. It stirs my soul every time I hear it.


Tony Buglass 11.28.11 at 2:25 pm

There is an absolutely gorgeous arrangement of the tune by Leopold Stokowski, combined with the Veni Creator Spiritus under the title “Two Ancient Liturgical Melodies” - it’s on one of the CD’s of his orchestrations of the music of JS Bach conducted by Jose Serebrier on the Naxos label. I have used it in church - it is simply breathtaking.


Ray Gaston 11.28.11 at 2:29 pm

Sorry to rain on the parade folks but see the following reflection


tortoise 11.28.11 at 11:17 pm

Speaking of Advent hymns, and the critique thereof:

Yesterday whilst singing “Lo, he comes with clouds descending” for the second time in a day, it struck me just how - well - gloating a tone is struck by the contrast between “those who set [him] at naught” (who will be found “deeply wailing” at the last), and “his ransomed worshippers” (the “we” who “gaze… on those glorious scars”). Shades of the elect and the reprobate?

Ah, but now I note that the editors of the new Methodist Singing the Faith hymnbook have felt moved to render it as “we who set at naught and sold him” (wouldn’t do to call out Chuck Wesley for crypto-Calvinism, would it?)


Kim 11.29.11 at 1:18 am

Personally, Ray, I have never read the hymn in an anti-Jewish way. I take the first verse to be referring to the second, not the first, coming of Christ. Thus I take it that both Jew and Christian continue to live in exile side by side, and that the Israel to which we pray Emmanuel will come is both church and synagogue. The last verse itself forbids any Marcionism.

However, admittedly, in saying this, I am bracketing both the authorial intention and the historical deployment of the hymn. If these are supersessionist, certainly if not out-and-out rewriting, at least some re-education should accompany the singing of the hymn.

As a BTW on the Torah, and Christ as the telos of the Torah, which is certainly NT teaching… For Paul who, of course, is no supersessionist, while Torah observance for Jewish Christians is to be respected, it is out of the question for Gentile Christians. And for Jews — well, as Douglas Harink observes: “One of the important unfinished tasks of Pauline scholarship is to sort out the differences between Torah’s ongoing proper function within Judaism as the Jews’ faithful witness to the God of Israel and Torah’s ‘end’ in Christ as an exalted, universal structuring principle and primary locus of God’s glory.”

Interestingly, Harink here follows Yoder, who “presents the relationship between church and synagogue as characterized by potentially open borders and mutual learning.” Good, yes? Nevertheless, Yoder, extrapolating from Jeremiah, also regards exile (dispersion) not only as normative for Judaism but also as Judaism’s gift, “as a way of life, as a mission and a service to the wider world.” And therefore he regards Zionism as a perennial temptation to Judaism. For Yoder, homecoming becomes an “apocalyptic” category — and not in the vulgar historicist sense of Christian Zionists. The irrevocable corporeal election of Isreal, yes; the seizure and possession of Palestine — “there is no necessary link.”

The whole chapter on Israel in Harink’s Paul among the Postliberals (2003) is, I think, important — not least because Harink makes a frontal assault on N.T. Wright’s supersessionism! He also briefly, but approvingly, refers to Soulen’s God of Israel and Christian Theology and Scott Bader-Saye’s Church and Israel after Christendom: The Politics of Election.

Sorry for going off point (though perhaps not really!). Just trying to add (helpfully, I hope) to the mix.


Ray Gaston 11.29.11 at 5:41 pm

Hi Kim, re O Come O Come Emmanuel I’m afraid i’m not blessed with your hermeneutical skills or is it gymnastics :)

Re Paul and Torah some interesting and what some are calling groundbreaking work is being done by a Jewish Scholar Mark Nanos on this area. See the wide ranging material on his very good website

re Yoder, I am aware of his use of Jeremiah in this way. Are you aware of Peter Ochs critique of this, from a self defined post -liberal Jewish perspective? He critiques Yoder as adopting modernist German - Jewish humanist categories in his choice of Jewish dialogue partners and interpretation of Jeremiah and argues for a more nuanced approach to what he sees as a developing post liberal Judaism that goes beyond the dualist modernist categories of humanist diaspora and nationalist zionism. He writes

“For post-liberal Jews, the emerging religion of Israel will draw both exilic and landed life into a relationship that we cannot yet define. The story of the Jews on the land of Israel, alongside or with the Palestinians on the soil of Palestine, is no morality play nor theo-drama but a fact offered us by the unhappy turmoils of modern western civilisation and its colonialism and antisemitism (meaning both anti - Jewishness and anti - Arabism); and also offered us by those who removed Israel from its home and for 2,000 years reinforced that removal. Those who, in Yoder’s terms, respect God’s sovereignty must also have the imagination to forsee that western nationalism may not remain the only political model for life in the Middle East, or in Europe, for that matter. The question and status and manner of Jewish life on the soil of Israel, as well as on the soils of all other lands, may not be defined for so long by the extremes of nationalist sovereignty versus landlessness. Just as Yoder has encouraged us to imagine the past in new ways, so must we post-liberal Jews ask our new found Anabaptist friends to imagine with us new ways for Israel’s future in a post - modern world. This means, as well, new ways for western economics and politics, rather than just new forms of the old western dichotomy between the ways of power and the ways of powerlessness.

It is not helpful, therefore, for Jews who have escaped from the limits of German-Jewish humanism to be shown again the old model…The Shoah has brought us beyond that, and post-liberalism inhabits this beyond. It is helpful for us to be reminded of Jeremiah’s patience and openness to seek the welfare of the city, so long as we are reminded, as well, of his own desire and plan to return to, and seek welfare of, the city of Jerusalem…..We do not yet know how Judaism’s exilic and landed lives will be integrated into a renewed religion. But we trust that God’s directives for that integration will emerge only out of our renewed study of Torah. And we expect that, this time the study table will have seats around it for Yoder’s students as well…for Palestinian as well as Jewish scholars. And there is no way for us to know, beforehand the Word that will be heard through this study.”

Peter Ochs in Michael G Cartwright and Peter Ochs (Eds) John Howard Yoder’ ‘The Jewish - Christian Schism Revisited’ Radical Traditions (SCM 2003) p203

I think this quote and Och’s approach from a Jewish perspective and his invitation to sit around the table to explore Judaisms renewed future affirms my own statement in a previous conversation that I reiterate again

“Any Christian theology that is going to make a contribution towards reconciliation, healing and justice in Israel/Palestine is going to need to be able to be dialogical with both Judaism and Islam and needs to engage with the reality of the symbolic power that Jerusalem holds for many in all the three Abrahamic traditions and how the particularity of the engagement with land works itself out in each, but especially in Judaism.”


Kim 11.29.11 at 7:11 pm

Yes, Peter Ochs, co-founder with David Ford of the Society of Scriptutal Reasoning, a signatory to Dabru Emet, and author of the recent Another Reformation: Postiberal Christianity and the Jews (which I shall surely have to get).

Yes, Ray, I am aware of Ochs’ critique (though not in detail) of Yoder’s “diaspora existence” as over-simplifying the status of exile/diaspora in Jewish history — he’s probably right — but also of Daniel Boyarin’s more sympathetic critique of Yoder. Boyarin is particularly, pressingly challenging in suggesting that the only way for Christians to avoid supersessionism is to think Jewishly about the church as a diasporic people. I agree — which is why I actually welcome post-Christendom and resist those in denial about the exile of the Western Church, those who live on nostalgia and pray for “revival”, and also those who see mission in competetive terms (with Islam the principal foe) as the reclamation and extension of religious space. And I take “exile” here not as only a sociological, metaphorical observation about church decline but, above all, as a singularly apt theological description of a church under judgement, for its history of collusions with empire and state.

In that recent converation you mention I myself reiterated your statement, and I am happy to add an “Amen!” to your present reiteration of it. And we must surely welcome, support, and pray for Ochs’ hope for a robust but generous conversation in which Jews, Christians, and Muslims explore together their respective scriptures, not to score points but to receive blessings, and work together for shalom/salaam in the Holy Land and the world.


Ray Gaston 11.29.11 at 10:08 pm

Amen to most of that Kim. Although, whilst I like your description of Boyarin’s vision for the church, he is pretty marginal in Jewish thought and in Jewish reflection upon issues of exilic and landed experience. I think Ochs is a little more representative of a creative and thoughtful exploration that is internally challenging, wants to be dialogical with Christianity and Islam and remains engaged and influential with the opinions of living contemporary Judaisms.


Kim 11.30.11 at 7:07 am

I see this morning that The Jewish Annotated New Testament, edited byAmy Jill-Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler, has just been published by OUP. Maybe you could ask for a review copy, Ray, and, er, review it for us?


Richard 11.30.11 at 10:48 am

Or you could ask for a review copy, Kim! Cross post @ F&T?


Kim 11.30.11 at 2:47 pm

I don’t think I have the necessary expertise for a review that does justice to the book and its many contributors. And it looks HUGE!


Ray Gaston 12.02.11 at 7:08 pm

Thanks for asking Kim even if Richard seems less keen on having me on the blog :) I actually have a copy already. Would like to spend some time with it before doing something like a review. I posted about the publication on my own blog including a link to some preliminary reviews a couple of weeks ago for anyone interested.


Richard 12.02.11 at 9:42 pm

Au contraire, Ray. You’re more than welcome. Your recent conversations with Kim re Judaism have been very edifying.

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