Posts tagged ‘Veni veni Emmanuel’

November 27, 2016

2016-11-27 Notes from the Bench

“Veni, Veni, Emmanuel” by Lindsay Lafford

A commentary on this week’s music by Dr. James T. Gerber, Music Associate


“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” has inspired numerous choral and instrumental works. Today, our choirs will sing a setting by Sir Lindsay Lafford (1912-2014), a composer who lived in the Phoenix area from 1994 until his death in 2014. “O come, O come, Emmanuel”—words that will resound through these coming four weeks of Advent. The text for this well-known and beloved Advent hymn is based on the “O” Antiphons, the antiphons for the Magnificat used at Vespers beginning on December 17 until Christmas Eve. Each antiphon is a title for the Messiah and refer to the prophecy of Isaiah of the Messiah’s coming: Sapientia (Wisdom), Adonai (God), Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse), Clavis David (Key of David), Oriens (Morning Star), Rex Gentium (King of Nations), and Emmanuel (God with us). Fr. William Saunders presents the theory, although it may simply be a coincidence, that the medieval Benedictine monks arranged the antiphons in a manner so that if you take first letter of each one (in reverse order), the Latin words ERO CRAS are formed, which means “tomorrow, I will come,” or “tomorrow I will be.” The early hymn-text version of the “O” Antiphons appeared in a 1710 German hymnal, Psalteriolum Cantionum Catholicarum. The version of this hymn that appears in many American hymnals is based on a translation by the Anglican priest and hymn-writer, John Mason Neale (1818-1866). The tune, Veni, Veni, Emmanuel, is a fifteenth-century French processional melody.

read more »