‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’ in Spanish

¡Oh ven!, ¡Oh ven, Emanuel!

Almudena Cathedral
Mary and the Baby Jesus as portrayed at the Almudena Cathedral in Madrid, Spain.

Electra K. Vasileiadou / Getty Images

Here is a Spanish version of the popular Christmas carol and Advent hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel. The song, whose author is unknown, comes originally from Latin, dating to around the 11th century, and is known in both English and Spanish in multiple versions. This Spanish version is one of the most popular.

¡Oh ven!, ¡Oh ven, Emanuel!

¡Oh ven!, ¡Oh ven, Emanuel!
Libra al cautivo Israel,
Que sufre desterrado aquí,
Y espera al Hijo de David.

¡Alégrate, oh Israel!
Vendrá, ya viene Emanuel.

¡Oh ven, Tú, Vara de Isaí!
Redime al pueblo infeliz
Del poderío infernal
Y danos vida celestial.

¡Oh ven, Tú, Aurora celestial!
Alúmbranos con tu verdad,
Disipa toda oscuridad,
Y danos días de solaz.

¡Oh ven, Tú, Llave de David!
Abre el celeste hogar feliz;
Haz que lleguemos bien allá,
Y cierra el paso a la maldad.

English Translation of Spanish Version

Oh come! Oh come, Emmanuel!
Free captive Israel
Which here suffers, displaced,
And waits for the Son of David.

Be joyful, O Israel!
He will come, Emmanuel is coming.

O come, You, Rod of Israel
Redeem the unhappy people
From hell's power
And give us heavenly life.

O You, come, celestial light of dawn!
Illuminate us with your truth,
Dispel all darkness,
And give us days of solace.

O come, You, David's Key.
Open the happy heavenly home.
Make it so we arrive there well,
And close the path to evil.

Translation Notes

Oh: This interjection usually expresses amazement or happiness, so it isn't always the equivalent of "oh." It is far more common in poetic writing than in everyday speech. It should not be confused with the homophone and conjunction o, meaning "or," even though it is pronounced the same.

Ven: The Spanish verb venir, usually meaning "to come" is highly irregular. Ven is the singular, familiar imperative form, so in Spanish this song unambiguously is written as if speaking to Emanuel.

Emanuel: The Spanish word here is a personal name transliterated from Hebrew, meaning "God is with us." The name is still used today, often in the shortened form of Manuel. In Christianity, the name usually refers to Jesus.

Libra: This is the singular familiar imperative form of librar, meaning to free or liberate.

Al: Al is a contraction of a (to) and el (the). The use of the personal a in the second line indicates that Israel is being personified.

Desterrado: The adjective desterrado is derived from the noun tierra, meaning Earth. In this context, it means "exiled," referring to someone removed from his or her homeland. In informal contexts, it can mean "banished."

Danos: It is common to attach object pronouns to verbs in the imperative mood. Here the pronoun nos, or "us," is attached to imperative of dar.

: The familiar form of "you" is used throughout this hymn as it is the pronoun that Spanish-speaking Christians use in prayer while addressing God or Jesus.

Vara de Isaí: A vara is a rod or stick. Isaí is a poetically shortened form of the name Isaías, or Isaiah. The reference here is to Isaiah 11:1 in the Christian Old Testament that there "shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse." Christians have interpreted this as a prophecy of the Messiah, whom they believe to be Jesus. In the common English version of this hymn, the line is "Come O rod of Jesse's stem."

RedimeFrom the verb redimir, to redeem.

Poderío: This noun, usually translated as "power," comes from the verb poder, to have ability or power. Poderío often refers to the power available to someone or something that has authority or financial or military might.

Alégrate: From the reflexive form of the verb alegrar, to be happy or joyous.

Aurora: The aurora is the first light of dawn. In the English version, "Dayspring" is used here.

Alumbranos: Alumbrar means to enlighten or to give light.

Disipar: Although this verb can be translated as "to dissipate," in the context of this song it is better translated as "to get rid of" or "to dispel."

Oscuridad: This word can mean "obscurity," as when referring ideas. But it far more often means "darkness." The related adjective is oscuro.

Solaz: In some contexts, solaz refers to rest or relaxation. It is a cognate of the English "solace."

Llave de David: This phrase, meaning "key of David," is a reference to an Old Testament verse, Isaiah 22:22, which Christians have understood to refer symbolically to the authority of the coming Messiah.

Lleguemos: This verb for is an example of the subjunctive mood. Llegar is a common verb meaning "to arrive." Note that llegar is irregular because the -g- of the stem changes to -gu- when followed by an e to maintain the correct pronunciation.

Celeste: Here, this word has the meaning of "celestial." However, in other contexts it can refer to the blue color of the sky. Placing the adjective before the noun, hogar, gives it a stronger emotional impact.

Haz: This is an irregular form of hacer.

Maldad: The suffix dad- is used to turn an adjective, in this case mal or "bad," to a noun.

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Erichsen, Gerald. "‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’ in Spanish." ThoughtCo, Sep. 3, 2021, thoughtco.com/oh-ven-oh-ven-emanuel-3079486. Erichsen, Gerald. (2021, September 3). ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’ in Spanish. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/oh-ven-oh-ven-emanuel-3079486 Erichsen, Gerald. "‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’ in Spanish." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/oh-ven-oh-ven-emanuel-3079486 (accessed June 11, 2023).