John Fesko writes:
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is one of the better-known hymns that is typically sung during the Christmas season. What some may not know is that it originated in the Middle Ages, around A.D. 800, as an antiphon, or anthem, that was restructured into verse form in the 1100s and was eventually published in Latin in 1710. The hymn was later discovered, translated, and published in 1851 by John Mason Neale, an Anglican minister.
As people sing this hymn, they know that they are singing about the birth of Christ. However, what is striking about this hymn is the way in which it unpacks the birth of Christ. It moves from the shadows of the Old Testament into the light of the New Testament with the revelation of God in Christ.