The Origins of Veni, Veni Emanuel


“Veni, veni Emmanuel! Captivum solve Israel! Qui gemit in exilio.” This enchanting tune was most familiar in the English-speaking world dating back to the 15th-century in France. As for the text, it was first document in Germany in 1710. The pre-history of the text goes back to the origins of the O Antiphons which were around since the eighth century.



The songs Latin roots began in the Latin masses of the day and it eventually made its way to a bigger audience. From, Bereket Kelile gave the story behind “O come, O come, Emmanuel” in it he said “The initial Latin text, framed in the original seven different verses, represented the different biblical views of the Messiah. One verse per day was sung or chanted during the last seven days before Christmas.



For the people of the Dark Ages—few of whom read or had access to the Bible—the song was one of the few examples of the full story of how the New and Old Testament views of the Messiah came together in the birth and life of Jesus. Because it brought the story of Christ the Savior to life during hundreds of years of ignorance and darkness, ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’ ranks as one of the most important songs in the history of the Christian faith.”


John Mason Neale on January 24, 1818 is responsible for making the song known worldwide. He was and Anglican priest that was educated at Trinity College in Cambridge. Mr. Neale knew how to speak and write more than twenty languages. He was thought to be too evangelical so he was sent by the Anglican Church to the Madiera Islands off the northwest coast of Africa. He translated the song from Latin to English with his translation being “Draw Nigh, Draw Nigh, Emmanuel.”



This tune has quite an exquisite history and should be shared with all.