Hi, Airymouse -
I'm glad I had the Internet to help me out. I had six years of Latin, but it has faded in the 45 years since my 6th-year class.
O come (veni)
Ransom (solve) - better translated "release"
are both imperatives.
The imperative is usually formed by dropping the last two letters from the infinitive, so "venire" (to come) becomes "veni" (come) - but "venite" (Y'all come) in the plural, as in "venite adoremus."
Hope that helps. Vote for me for pope.
-Joe, the ex-seminarian-
Veni, Veni Emmanuel is a synthesis of the great "O Antiphons" that are used for Vespers during the octave before Christmas (Dec. 17-23). These antiphons are of ancient origin, dating back to at least the ninth century. The hymn itself, though, is much more recent. Its first appeared in the 18th century in the Psalteriolum Cantionum Catholicarum (Cologne 1710).
There are several arrangements of this hymn. The one below gives the seven verses in the order in which the antiphons appear during the octave before Christmas, except for the first verse, which really is the last of the O antiphons and would otherwise go at the end if it were not the standard first verse of the hymn. It is interesting to note that the initial words of the actual antiphons in reverse order form an acrostic: O Emmanuel, O Rex, O Oriens, O Clavis, O Radix ("virgula" in the hymn), O Adonai, O Sapientia. ERO CRAS can be loosely translated as "I will be there tomorrow". That is a fitting message indeed since Christ's birth falls on the following day.
VENI veni, Emmanuel
captivum solve Israel,
qui gemit in exsilio,
privatus Dei Filio.
R: Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
nascetur pro te Israel!
O COME, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that morns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
R: Rejoice! Rejoice! O Israel,
to thee shall come Emmanuel!
Veni, O Sapientia,
quae hic disponis omnia,
veni, viam prudentiae
ut doceas et gloriae. R.
O come, Thou Wisdom, from on high,
and order all things far and nigh;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go. R.
Veni, veni, Adonai,
qui populo in Sinai
legem dedisti vertice
in maiestate gloriae. R.
O come, o come, Thou Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times did give the law,
in cloud, and majesty, and awe. R.
Veni, O Iesse virgula,
ex hostis tuos ungula,
de spectu tuos tartari
educ et antro barathri. R.
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse's stem,
from ev'ry foe deliver them
that trust Thy mighty power to save,
and give them vict'ry o'er the grave. R.
Veni, Clavis Davidica,
regna reclude caelica,
fac iter tutum superum,
et claude vias inferum. R.
O come, Thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heav'nly home,
make safe the way that leads on high,
that we no more have cause to sigh. R.
Veni, veni O Oriens,
solare nos adveniens,
noctis depelle nebulas,
dirasque mortis tenebras. R.
O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death's dark shadow put to flight. R.
Veni, veni, Rex Gentium,
veni, Redemptor omnium,
ut salvas tuos famulos
peccati sibi conscios. R.
O come, Desire of the nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid every strife and quarrel cease
and fill the world with heaven's peace. R.
Latin, paraphrase of the great "O antiphons". Translation by T. Helmore (1811-1890), J. M. Neale (1818-1866) and others.