“… and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’”
— Matthew 1:23
Christmas weaves its own magic spell with twinkling lights and silver bells, wonderful music and special memories. And as we let nostalgia flood us with warm feelings, we find ourselves hoping for a perfect Christmas. We long in our hearts for something to make everything right in our world. I believe that at this time of year, whether people recognize it or not, everyone longs for God.
Some have said that next to the Bible, we should know best the hymnal. The Scriptures contain doctrine and ethics. Our hymns, which have been called “three minute sermons,” consist of great truths set to music. This is certainly true concerning most Christmas hymns and carols. Some of the most beautiful music in the world belongs to the Christmas season, and these songs clearly communicate the message of Christ’s coming and of His redemptive work.
Consider the ancient hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” This hymn begins with the shortest lyric in the history of songwriting: one letter—“O”. Not even “Oh,” it was simply “O”. The Latin Church of the eighth century called this syllable the antiphon, and they sang it as the deep-seated plea of the human heart after God. The Bible tells us, “As the hart pants after the water brooks, so pants my soul after Thee, O God.” This is the personal longing communicated in “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”
Just as the godly Jews waited for the Messiah to come, so now the Church waits and longs for Him to come again. As you sing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” this Christmas season, thank God that Christ will return to make everything perfect and whole again.