Back in 2006, Sufjan Stevens released a box set containing Christmas songs he’d recorded for his friends and family over the years.

The whole thing is on Spotify for your listening pleasure, but, if you need a jumping off point, his take on the classic “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is a great place to start.

The song showcases what Sufjan has always done best: Compose quiet, understated, whispery and worshipful songs that reflect both humanity and grace.

Though it’s a soft—even sad—sounding hymn, it’s lyrics are about the heart of advent: Waiting for the promise of redemption: “To free your captive Israel / That mourns in lonely exile here / Until the Son of God appear / Rejoice, rejoice o Israel / To you shall come Emmanuel”

Amen.

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