O Emmanuel | a new song

O Emmanuel | a new song

For several years now Steve Bell has been working collaboratively with the English poet and theologian Malcolm Guite, yielding some rather remarkable new music. Well it turns out that Steve isn’t the only singer-songwriter who is finding inspiration in Malcolm’s work. This past Sunday in our liturgy Jaylene Johnson offered two songs based in Malcolm’s poetry: “O Clavis” and “O Emmanuel”. Both are from Malcolm’s series of seven poems on the “O Antiphons” of Advent.

We sang “O Emmanuel” during communion, and with its repeated chorus and very singable melody, it was a perfect choice. The recording is very raw, marked both by the sound of the creaking floor as people came forward to share in communion and by the voices of the communion administrants as they offered bread and wine to the community.

  • To listen to the song, simply click the arrow:

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You can also read a bit more on the “O Antiphons” and see the text of the original sonnet on Malcolm Guite’s blog. Included in that post is the audio of Malcolm’s reading of the sonnet “O Emmanuel”.

Come to us, Wisdom

Come unspoken Name

Come Root, and Key, and King

And holy Flame


O Long-sought With-ness

For a world without

O secret seed, O hidden light

We need you now


Be folded with us

Into time and place

And unfold for us the mystery

Of grace


O heart of heaven

Beating in the earth

Come to be born to bear us

To our birth

(Music by Jaylene Johnson, with lyrics adapted from Malcolm Guite’s “O Emmanuel”)

One Response to O Emmanuel | a new song

  1. Julie Doerksen says:

    Jaylene, would you allow your song to be used in our congregation? We’re using 4 of Malcolm Guite’s sonnets this Advent, including the one you have here. I would love to know how you approach sharing your music. Thanks.

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