At our leadership conference this fall, the Rev. Dr. Barbara Lundblad was one of our presenters. She took us through the lessons from the prophet Isaiah that are read in this year – what we call Year A in the three-year cycle of lessons that are read in worship. The gospel lessons in Year A are taken mainly from the gospel of Matthew – in Year B, they are taken from Mark; and in Year C, from Luke. John’s gospel doesn’t follow the timeline of the other three and so is read in all three years.
The Old Testament lessons follow a number of patterns through the three years. This year’s Advent, we hear the prophecies from Isaiah that we believe are fulfilled in Christ.
The song “O Come, O Come, Immanuel” is a traditional one through the season of Advent. It expresses the longing for Immanuel (which means “God with us”) to “ransom captive Israel.” Recent scholarship has questioned the somewhat anti-Semitic tone of the lyrics. Dr Lundblad brought us her new version of the song, with lyrics that reflect the Isaiah lessons through each of this year’s four Sundays of Advent. She graciously urged us to share it:
O Come, O Come, Immanuel
O come, O come, Immanuel
And bless each place your people dwell.
Melt ev’ry weapon crafted for war,
bring peace upon the earth forever more.
Refrain Rejoice, rejoice! Take heart and do not fear,
God’s chosen one, Immanuel, draws near.
O come, green shoot of Jesse, free
Your people from despair and apathy;
Forge justice for the poor and the meek,
Grant safety for the young ones and the weak. Refrain
O come now, living water, pour your grace,
And bring new life to ev’ry withered place;
Speak comfort to each trembling heart:
“Be strong! Fear not, for I will ne’er depart.” Refrain
O come, dear child of Mary, come,
God’s Word made flesh within our earthly home;
Love stir within the womb of night,
Revenge and hatred put to flight. Refrain
The above verses correspond to the Isaiah readings for Advent, Year A of the Revised Common Lectionary. Revised text by Barbara K. Lundblad. Used with permission.
Dr. Lundblad’s language expands the scope of the original to be widely inclusive of all peoples and all of creation.
One of the most beautiful arrangements of this 15th century French processional hymn is by Chip Davis and Mannheim Steamroller:
Come, Lord Jesus.