|Title:||VENI EMMANUEL (Chant)|
|Meter:||22.214.171.124 with refrain|
|Incipit:||13555 46543 4531|
|Source:||French processional, 15th cent.|
O come, O come, Immanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
VENI IMMANUEL was originally music for a Requiem Mass in a fifteenth-century French Franciscan Processional. Thomas Helmore (b. Kidderminster, Worcestershire, England, 1811; d. Westminster, London, England, 1890) adapted this chant tune and published it in Part II of his The Hymnal Noted (1854). A graduate of Magdalen College, Oxford,England, Helmore was ordained a priest in the Church of England, but his main contribution to the church was in music. He was precentor at St. Mark's College, Chelsea (1842-1877), and master of the choristers in the Chapel Royal for many years. He promoted unaccompanied choral services and played an important part in the revival of plainchant in the Anglican Church. Helmore was involved in various publications of hymns, chants, and carols, including A Manual of Plainsong (1850) and The Hymnal Noted (with John Mason Neale).
VENI IMMANUEL is in the Dorian mode and could be sung in harmony throughout, but the preferred practice is to sing the stanzas in unison and the refrain in parts. For example, sing the hymn antiphonally, perhaps including organ-alone stanzas. On stanza 4 the organ could play an arrangement of the tune while the congregation meditates on the text.
Chant tunes are intended to be sung in speech-rhythm, so sing this hymn freely and do not hesitate to let the "Rejoice" phrases ring through the church! Use light accompaniment on the stanzas and full, bright accompaniment on the refrain. Play and sing the line "Immanuel shall come to you" as one phrase. Organists may want to use an accompaniment in more of a chant style; for example, Hymnal 1982 (56) contains an accompaniment suited to unison singing of the stanzas. Accompanists could still use the Psalter Hymnal harmonization for part singing on the refrain.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook