This is the last in a series of sonnets based upon the Advent prayers, “The Great O Antiphons”. “O Emmanuel” is the last in this series of prayers sung in the liturgy before Christmas Eve and makes up for us the title and first line of the Advent hymn, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”. The prayer’s text and theme draws upon the verse from Isaiah 7:14 which reads, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
The text of the antiphon is: “O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver, the hope of the nations and their Savior: Come and save us, O Lord our God.”
Far, so far away is any king from me;
Beyond so many bolstered gates and doors;
His ear is taken with so many other pleas—
Matters greater than my petty economy and wars.
One’s hope I’m told, is not one if it’s seen;
So say the preachers whom I’ve often heard;
I try to listen, understand what they all must mean,
But worry and care hide the hope, choke the Sower’s word.
If only help could come to us, bearing our salvation,
One who holds, can keep, one safe to lean upon—
Strong and broad enough to fill the hope of every nation
And enfold us all in arms of love till all our fear is gone.
Swaddled by his mother, Hope is delivered in a stable,
God is with us. God is loving. God is willing. God is able.
© Randy Edwards
artwork: Gustav Dore