Christmas carols: O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Sorry about missing last week's post. I was cavorting in Indiana and didn't have time to do a Christmas carols post.
The carols in the The New Oxford Book of Carols are arranged chronologically by the oldest known version of the song. Veni, veni, Emanuel isn't the first song in the book, but it is the first song that I know. (It may also be the earliest song that I'm able to find recorded on YouTube, since the others strike me as fairly obscure.)
Many Christmas carols celebrate Christ's birth joyfully. This song, by contrast, is a plaintive melody sung by those who are still waiting for Christ to come and liberate them from captivity.
Another beautiful thing about this hymn is how every verse addresses Christ using a different name for Him. He is referred to as "Emmanuel," "the Branch of Jesse," "the Dayspring," "the Key of David," and "Adonai."
One of the things I like best about this song is how very old it sounds, and yet how it works well in modern arrangements. I've accordingly tried to find a range of recordings and I've put them roughly in order from more traditional to more modern.
solo guitar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIc0cKzCQ2M ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Z0NjFEVels
A very traditional arrangement.
An a capella version.
Christina Sonneman, 2007:
A version for harp and voice. The sound quality on this isn't great, but I think it's still a lovely arrangement.
Bonus: Future of Forestry, 2008:
Because everyone loves rock versions of Christmas carols, right?
Honorable Mention: A trio of guitar solos: Satiel on electric guitar, and "Latin Guy" and "lladnekj" on acoustic guitar. Also Sufjan Stevens, on Optimistic.'s recommendation.