This advanced-intermediate level arrangement is suitable for use at Advent and Christmas in concert, recital, and worship.
“Veni, Veni Emmanuel” are the opening words, in Latin, of the Medieval text translated to English as “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by John Mason Neale (1818-1866), with music arranged by Thomas Helmore (1811-1890), for The Hymnal Noted (London, 1856). The text of this most famous of Advent hymns is taken from various “‘O’ Antiphons,” verses sung or recited before and after the Magnificat during the evening Vespers service in the last week of Advent. Each antiphon is a name of Christ, and together they echo the foretelling of the long-expected Messiah by the prophet Isaiah.
The origin of the music is uncertain. Some claim it to be from a 15th-century French processionale (hymnal, liturgical manual) for Franciscan nuns; others believe it to be of earlier, eighth-century Gregorian plainsong origins. Both Neale and Helmore were Anglo-Catholic, and both contributed much to the reclamation and inclusion of ancient texts and chant-based hymnody to the Church of England in the 19th century.