And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
- And did those feet, William Blake

mandag 12. desember 2016

Veni Veni Emmanuel

Advent is progressing rapidly and Christmas is just a few days away. For a last-year PhD candidate, this means to be shoulder-deep in writing and in sundry preparations that are required before leaving for home and the Christmas holiday (and more writing, but hopefully on a different text than at present). As usual at the end of term, my work means that I have less energy left for blogging. So, in order to keep up some activity here, I will give you this brief blogpost featuring three versions of one of my all-time favourite songs for Advent, Veni veni Emmanuel.

I first heard this song in elementary school, probably in connection with the marking of Advent which the classes performed for each other towards the end of term. Or it might have been for the school's Christmas feast, or simply our teacher's attempt to provide us with some culture. In any case, the lyrics - sung in Norwegian - and the music stuck with me and returns to me each Advent, even though I have not yet learned the complete text.

The song is a famous one, and is often - even in the Norwegian hymnal - marked as a text written by an anonymous author in the twelfth century. This is a popular claim, but the earliest evidence of the text comes from early eighteenth-century Germany. The song is a synthesis of the seven O antiphons, a name given to seven antiphons for Magnificat (i.e. performed during the office of Vesper), which address Christ in different titles drawn from the prophecies of Isaiah, which are believed to have foretold the coming of Christ.

Below are three versions of the song, two with the Latin text, one with an English translation. I had hoped to provide a Norwegian version instead, but could find none to my liking.

Enjoy, and have a happy Advent.

2 kommentarer:

  1. Ooh I just taught a class on this! The music has an interesting history too, which is more than a little nuntastic. The ever-careful Peter Woetmann Christoffersen combs through most of the story:
    But my favourite part about the story is the tune's rediscovery by Mother Thomas More in a Clarissen rituale, and the correction of her (by a man, of course) which turned out to be wrong... Yeah, you can imagine the lessons that can be drawn from that.

    1. Brilliant! I did not know about the history of the music, so thank you for that! Also, I like the rediscovery history. Great example of historical mansplaining. Too bad I missed your class, though!