“Veni, Emmanuel”

O promised God-Among-Us, gentle Child,
Come to the nation, people, you have claimed
As your inheritance, now languishing
In bondage like unto, but worse than that
You brought them forth from long ago in might.
O hoped-for Savior even of the nations,
Rightful King, whose very word is law
Throughout the entire cosmos, earth and sky
And everywhere that light or space can run,
For you have made both wind and fire your servants—
Come, fulfil their longing; save us, Lord!

Adoration of the Shepherds by Cima da Conegliano

This is a verse expansion or meditation on the seventh and last of the O Antiphons; the first and second poems in this project appeared three and two weeks ago respectively, the third, fourth, and fifth last week, and the sixth on Thursday. This was the first one I began, as its first lines came together in my mind months ago, but when the idea for the project took shape and deadlines loomed I set it aside to work from the other Antiphons first.

I have a poem for Christmastide in progress, and may write one for Epiphany (we’ll see); after that, given my usual pace of writing, I expect to resume the schedule at most one poem every two weeks. (I am grateful to have been able to even manage that with any degree of consistency for any lengths of time this year.)

As always, I earnestly welcome your questions, suggestions, or other comments about this or any other part of my work. If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can read my archive (also organized in more manageable installments); get my book, which contains over sixty of my best poems, each paired with a public-domain illustration or drawing; or follow this blog for (now only occasional) new poetry (among other things). You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

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“Veni, Rex Gentium”

O Lord, of all Earth’s peoples rightful King,
You are the One Whom they have long desired,
The Capstone of the house that God is building,
From Whom all who truly live depend,
But over Whom all who are dead shall fall;
In you, the Father makes all nations one,
That you might rule the world in lasting peace.
Lord, you made humans from the very clay
And breathed your Spirit’s life into their mouths;
Come now, we pray, and save that race of men
That you created; make a lasting end
To war, ambition, hatred, strife, and sin,
And spread your rule in fact to every land. Continue reading

“Veni, O Oriens”

O Morning Star, first of all the sons of light
And source from whom all other lights have sprung,
You shine the splendor of your Father’s glory,
Rising over all his righteous Sun
With healing in your wings for those you call.
Come, Dayspring, break on those who sit in night;
Pour forth abroad your glory’s shining beams
To wake all those who sleep in shades of death. Continue reading

“Veni, O Radix Jesse”

O Root of Jesse’s stem, O Righteous Branch,
You stand amid the peoples as a sign
Of God’s authority, presence, and power,
As if the highest flag within their gates
Or like the serpent Moses lifted up.
Before the unveiled glory of your presence
None can speak, and even kings fall dumb
Who throng to seek your guidance and your face
(As even righteous Job when God appeared),
But nations that revere your name in love
Cry out to you in times of their distress,
In trust that you will hear their earnest prayer:
Come, Root of Jesse, come, deliver us
From all oppressors, those who hold us bound
In fruitless ways of death, or seek our life.
Come, hasten, Lord; how long will you delay?

This is a verse expansion or meditation on the third of the O Antiphons; the first and second poems in this project have appeared in this space on the last two Fridays, and I hope to finish poems based on all seven antiphons before Christmas.

Študija drevesi by Alojz Eberl

As always, I earnestly welcome your questions, suggestions, or other comments about this or any other part of my work. If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can read my archive (also organized in more manageable installments); get my book, which contains over sixty of my best poems, each paired with a public-domain illustration or drawing; or follow this blog for (now only occasional) new poetry (among other things). You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

“Veni, O Adonai”

O Lord of Hosts, you rule your chosen people
With a deft and mighty outstretched hand,
And have since long before that famous day
You spoke to Moses from the burning bush;
You struck their foes with plagues, then brought them forth
From Egypt, where they lived in slavery,
Then dry-shod through the Sea. On Sinai’s peak
You showed your majesty in smoke and thunder,
And in such an awesome, fearsome, voice
That all who heard it fell and cried with dread
You spoke your law, that all might know your ways.
Now, Lord, your people cry again in anguish,
Laboring under the selfish rule
Of those who hate you: Come deliver us,
Show forth your righteousness, bring low the proud,
And grant your chosen saints to hear your voice.

This is a verse expansion or meditation on the second of the O Antiphons; my poem on the first appeared here last week, and I hope to finish poems based on all seven before Christmas.

Moses on Mount Sinai by Jean-Léon Gérôme

As always, I earnestly welcome your questions, suggestions, or other comments about this or any other part of my work. If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can read my archive (also organized in more manageable installments); get my book, which contains over sixty of my best poems, each paired with a public-domain illustration or drawing; or follow this blog for (now only occasional) new poetry (among other things). You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

“Veni, O Sapientia”

O living Wisdom, more than merely wise
But Whom all who are truly wise must love,
Your speaking brought the universe to being,
And made time begin its ceaseless pace;
You understand all things in perfect truth,
From galaxies too far to see from Earth,
To particles too quick and small to know,
To every thought a man has ever dreamed,
And knew them all before you made the first.
And all these things are under your control,
So everything must happen as you say,
According to your word and to your plan,
More perfect than a note that’s just in tune.
Come, Wisdom, teach our hearts and mortal minds
To know and always walk in prudent paths,
To shed our folly, and hereafter live
As wiser people, following your ways.

This is a verse expansion or meditation on the first of the O Antiphons (since I relied far more heavily on both the English translation in Wikipedia and the standard Neale-et-al hymn text than on the Latin, I hesitate to call it a translation); I plan to continue on to all of the other six of the antiphons (starting with “Veni, O Adonai”), and post my expanded poetry throughout this Advent season.

As always, I earnestly welcome your questions, suggestions, or other comments about this or any other part of my work. If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can read my archive (also organized in more manageable installments); get my book, which contains over sixty of my best poems, each paired with a public-domain illustration or drawing; or follow this blog for (now only occasional) new poetry (among other things). You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

Advent Hymn: “O come, O come, Emmanuel”

This Advent, we’re looking at three Advent hymns. Today I planned to talk about one of the three or so Latin hymns I know of, “Veni, veni, Emmanuel,” better known by its English translation “O come, O come, Emmanuel.” Rebecca Miller already talked about it a couple of weeks ago on her blog, and a commenter there explained most of what I know about the hymn, but I still think it’s worth spending a little time on it here. Continue reading