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Friday, December 16, 2016

Today's Hymn

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.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (tune: Veni Emmanuel)
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

I love singing this hymn at Advent. I love the exuberant refrain: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Yet as I studied these verses for this devotion, I realized that I hadn’t fully appreciated the misery, gloom, and darkness the hymn also describes, that the joyous refrain is also an expression of the relief that will finally be experienced with Emmanuel’s coming.

The hymn, with its words of sorrow and joy, reminds us not to take Jesus’ birth for granted. The hymn is a plea to Jesus, “thou Key of David,” to come, please come, to overcome the darkness in the world with his amazing light.

The hymn reminds us that the birth of Jesus, the fulfillment of God’s promise, is truly transformative. Jesus is the Dayspring, the beginning of a new order of things. As Isaiah prophesized, with Jesus’ birth:

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat . . .
And a little child shall lead them.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Indeed!

Dear God, we wait. Wait with open hearts, for the birth of Jesus, your amazing gift of love and forgiveness. Please help us to be worthy of this gift by rejoicing! Rejoicing for all we’ve already been given. Rejoicing for all those we love. Rejoicing in the good news that Jesus is coming soon! Amen.

Written by Ed Miller, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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