The text for the hymn Veni, Veni Emmanuel first appears in the 18th century in the Psalteriolum Cantionum Catholicarum (Cologne 1710). It is based on the much older “O” Antiphons which have their origins in the 9th century. When the antiphons are placed in the reverse chronological order the first letter (after the “O”) forms the acrostic ERO CRAS, literally “tomorrow, I will be” translated here as “I will come!”

This piece was conceived as a dialogue between the supplicants and the creator, a combination of old and new, juxtaposing a personal longing for something still to come, with the steadfast assurance of something ever-present yet not always seen. While the original theme is associated with the Christmas season, the wider theme of longing for something greater is universal to the human condition and allows this piece to be programed throughout the year. While the tune used is a variant of the original chant tune based on my childhood memory of the singing the melody that is true to my experience, the existence of the 3rd scale degree in the choral ostinato ensures that the tunes familiar contour will be instantly recognized.

Veni, Veni Emmanuel

Veni, Veni Emmanuel!
Captivum solve Israel!
Qui gemit in exsilio,
Privatus Dei Filio.

Refrain:Gaude, gaude, Emmanuel
Nascetur pro te, Israel.

Veni, veni, Rex Gentium,
veni, Redemptor omnium,
ut salvas tuos famulos
peccati sibi conscios

Veni, veni O Oriens,
solare nos adveniens,
noctis depelle nebulas,
dirasque mortis tenebras.

O come, o come, the “I am” that is with us
Break the bond of the captive people!
Who mourn in exile
Deprived of the incarnation of the father.

Rejoice! Rejoice! The great “I am”
Will be born for you.

O come, gatherer of all nations,
Come to make all whole,
To save your servants
From their separateness,

O come thou light of life (MorningStar)
To shine on us by your coming,
Dispel the clouds of night,
Drive away the shadows of death.