Week 12: Advent



O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Text: Anonymous, c. 750

Tune: Anonymous, c. 1450

  1. This hymn reminds us of the Jewish prophecies foretelling Christmas through its use of Old Testament imagery and language, in particular speaking to God’s role as “deliverer” during Israel’s captivity under Egypt as well as the Romans. Do you think the church does a good job explaining the Old Testament roots of Christmas? Are any of the metaphors or images particularly meaningful to you?
    • “Dayspring” literally means the “sun rising”. See Luke 1:78-79, where Zechariah, father of John the Baptist, uses this term to refer to Jesus’ birth bringing light to the world.
    • “Rod of Jesse” refers to Isaiah 11:1, a prophecy referring to Jesus’ lineage from Jesse, the father of King David.
    • “Lord of Might” reminds us that Jesus is God, both powerful and righteous, as he led Israel out of Egypt and provided them with the law through Moses.

Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates

Text: Georg Weissel (1590–1635), 1623

Tune: Anonymous, 1789

  1. This hymn puts a unique perspective on Advent, looking forward to Christ’s presence inwardly as well as outwardly, as well as looking beyond Christmas, with the enduring presence of the Holy Spirit. How would we go about preparing our hearts to receive Jesus? What does this look like in practice?
    • The first verse paraphrases portions of Psalm 24, which tradition says was written by David on the occasion when the Ark of the Covenant was returned to the Temple in Jerusalem after 20 years of captivity under the Philistines.
    • Likewise, our hearts are temples (verse 2); need to be “set apart” for this purpose.
    • Recall Jesus expelling the money changers from the Temple…

O Come, All Ye Faithful

Text: John Francis Wade (1711–1786), 1743

Tune: John Francis Wade (1711–1786), 1743

  1. Not strictly an “Advent” hymn, the text shares many of the same qualities of the earlier two, but rather than asking Christ to come to us, invites us to come to Christ. Which view would you say is more accurate — that we seek God, or He seeks us? Do we tend to focus on one over the other?

    • This is certainly a false dichotomy, both can be true at once
    • Verse 4 is reminiscent of 1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.”
    • Can we rephrase to “We seek Him because He first sought us”?
  2. The second verse is a fairly obvious paraphrase of the Nicene Creed. How does it fit in with the other verses, and what does it contribute to the overall message of the hymn?

    • The deity of Jesus is central to the Christmas story: “True God of true God”, “King of Angels”, “Christ the Lord