Jesus is called the “Day-Spring.” The dayspring is the dawn – it’s that moment, which ebbs and flows according to the season, when light first breaks over the darkness. But it’s more than that – it’s the first sign every day of the dispelling of darkness. It is the daily reminder that the mercies of God are new every morning, that despite our sin and rebellion, God did it once again today as the sun has come up. And if you’ve ever spent one of those nights alone – the kind of night where you can’t get away from your own thoughts, the kind of night that seems to go on forever, the kind of night where you are overcome by fear and doubt – you know the simple preciousness of that first light of dawn.
“O Come O Come Emmanuel” was originally written in Latin, first documented in Germany in 1710. The tune for the words was created separately, and first linked with the hymn in 1851.
The song is played in a minor key, which is fitting, since it is a song that expresses the deep longing of our souls. We, in our brokenness, know that all it not indeed well, and we are reminded of it every day. We are reminded of our great fallenness in our homes, in our world, and even in our most silent moments when we look inside ourselves. We are a people of longing – longing for true joy, for true satisfaction, for true life.
True enough, we have many methods for escaping that longing. We drink it away, we sex it away, we work it away, we can even try to church it away – and yet it persists. The treadmill of life and the disappointment therein remains. We are longing for what only Jesus can bring, just as Israel was longing for centuries for the coming of God’s chosen One who would be their deliverer.