A song that has its roots in monasteries over 1,000 years ago and remains a favourite of many has a new life with two top Christian bands joining forces for a powerful rendition.
For KING & COUNTRY teamed up with NEEDTOBREATHE to record 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel' and released it in late October. It's a fitting song for Advent in 2020 as much of the world goes through lockdowns and will experience limited contact for Christmas.
The song has shot up the radio airplay charts, debuting at No. 19 after just one week.
Music historians say the hymn was originally written in Latin, and monks would sing it in the 8th or 9th century in anticipation of Christmas Eve. The United Methodist Church's History of Hymns says "that Seven days before Christmas Eve monasteries would sing the 'O antiphons' in anticipation of Christmas Eve when the eighth antiphon, 'O Virgo virginum' ('O Virgin of virgins') would be sung before and after Mary’s canticle, the Magnificat (Luke 1:46b-55).
"The Latin metrical form of the hymn was composed as early as the 12th century. John Mason Neale (1818-1866), the famous architect of the Oxford movement, discovered the Latin hymn in the appendix of an early 18th-century manuscript, 'Psalterium Cationum Catholicorum,' with a refrain. Neale, a translator of early Greek and Latin hymns, included it in his influential collection, Mediaeval Hymns and Sequences (1851)."
The Smallbone brothers of for KING & COUNTRY recorded the new version as part of their Christmas album, A Drummer Boy Christmas. The album, the brothers say, plays in two halves, with the first focusing on Advent and longing for hope, and the second on Christmas and "a great celebration."