O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Once upon a time, a colleague pointed out an implicit anti-semitism in our traditional carol, “O come, O come, Emmanuel”. She suggested that singing about Israel needing to be ransomed with Christ as the atoning sacrifice was disrespectful of our Jewish sisters and brothers. Over the years I have remembered her challenge. I have sung the traditional words and refused to sing them, I have printed them for the congregation and printed alternatives. My sense is that the theology underneath the traditional words is about the human struggle with attachment and that though the offensive words are not helpful, this theological expression is worthy. Here is one attempt to reframe the familiar opening verse.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
And move us from this worldly spell
Our spirits cry in exile here
Until the song of love appears.
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
For love is coming now to dwell.

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4 Responses to O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

  1. Joel says:

    I too have made some additions to “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”. My addition is the forth verse of this recording: http://tangledblue.bandcamp.com/track/o-come-o-come-emmanuel

  2. Pingback: Is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” anti-Semitic?

  3. Rick DeLano says:


    The “unfortunate” words which Holy Church has sung for centuries, are “offensive”, because they inform the Jew that Christ is the Messiah.

    How profoundly unCatholic.

    “….the Justification of the impious is indicated,-as being a translation, from that state wherein man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace, and of the adoption of the sons of God, through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Saviour. And this translation, since the promulgation of the Gospel, cannot be effected, without the laver of regeneration, or the desire thereof, as it is written; unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.”

    That includes Jews, and anyone who says that the Church somehow teaches it doesn’t, is an heretic.

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