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What does “Dayspring” mean?

By Elizabeth Prata

During this Christmas season you might sing the old hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” The hymn is thought to have originated in the 1100s! The 1861 translation of this ancient hymn from the Latin contains the verse about a Dayspring.

O come, Thou Dayspring, from on high,
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia explains the word dayspring.

DAYSPRING: “This beautiful English. word, in current use in the time of the AV, is found in the OT as shaḥar, “Hast thou … caused the dayspring to know his place?” (Job 38:12).”

“This is no doubt intended literally for the dawn. The “place” of the dayspring is the particular point of the horizon at which the sun comes up on any given day. This slowly changes day by day through the year, moving northward from midwinter till midsummer, and back again southward from midsummer to midwinter.

“Also once in the NT for anatolḗ, “a rising.” “The dayspring from on high hath visited us” (Luke 1:78). Both the Hebrew and Greek words, however, are of frequent occurrence, but variously rendered, “dawn,” “break of day,” “morning,” “sunrise,” “east.”

“Note especially. “the spring of the day” (1 Samuel 9:26), “the day began to spring” (Judges 19:25). Used with hēlíou, “sun,” for rising of the sun (Revelation 7:2; 16:12).”

Trever, G. H. (1915). Dayspring. In J. Orr, J. L. Nuelsen, E. Y. Mullins, & M. O. Evans (Eds.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Vol. 1–5, pp. 799–800). Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company.

Our Savior is a glorious God, and all the terms describing Him are beautiful, especially Dayspring. The reality is, though, our language can’t come close to describing or containing His glory. When we see Him in person, the moment will be more than a thousand suns rising over a pure and renewed creation, greater than the first morning.

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Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

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