VENI IMMANUEL (Anon, arr. Philip Sparke)

Meditation on 'O Come, O Come, Immanuel'

The Advent hymn we all know today as ‘O Come, O Come, Immanuel’ was arranged in its modern form by Thomas Helmore and published in Hymnal Noted in 1856. Both the words and melody, however, predate this version by centuries.

The words are based on a 9th century antiphon, one of the seven so-called ‘O’ antiphons (they all begin with ‘O’, as in ‘O Emmanuel…’, ‘O Radix Jesse… etc.) which were sung, one daily, during the last seven days before Christmas both before and after the Magnificat at Vespers. ‘O Emmanuel…’ was the last of the seven, sung on December 23rd.

The tune, Veni Immanuel, is taken from a 15th century processional of French Franciscan nuns, part of the setting for the funeral hymn Libera Me.

This arrangement aims to expand on the power and mystery of the original tune, and will be most effective if the solo trumpet/cornet at the start and end of the piece can be placed away from the band, maybe at the back of the auditorium.