Throughout Advent you might already have been singing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Or perhaps you have been waiting for today, Gaudete (“Rejoice”) Sunday, or for December 17, the traditional time the church begins singing the “O Antiphons” at evening prayer.
Whenever you sing it, especially if you sing it today, be sure that the way you play and sing the hymn reflects the message of the text. “Rejoice! Rejoice!” is the recurring refrain and includes the highest notes in the tune VENI VENI EMMANUEL. However, sometimes, the song seems more appropriate as a dirge because of a lethargic tempo, anemic accompaniment, or careless singing style by the choir.Don’t be afraid to actually sound like you’re rejoicing when singing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!” Even at a slow tempo, the refrain can still communicate the joy and urgency of these late Advent days Click To Tweet
Don’t be afraid to actually sound like you’re rejoicing when singing this song! Even at a slow tempo, the refrain can still communicate the joy and urgency of these late Advent days if you infuse it with energy and care. An example of this comes from the adaptation by Gabe Huck and Tony Alonso, “Come Emmanuel: Advent Gathering Rite” (GIA).
In the recording the choir sings each “Rejoice” strongly and cuts off the note on the third beat each time for added emphasis. Listen also to the gathering song version of the same piece by Alonso. The rock feel might be disorienting at first, but the way the refrain is sung brings new life and meaning to this classic text.
This post was first published in “GIA Quarterly: A Liturgical Music Journal.”