Last week we celebrated the release of A Journey Toward Home . which is available on the MSA website for a special discount price of $11.95 until November 5th. You have no idea how exciting and rewarding it is to put together a book like this, so I thought your would appreciate this short video which Kristin and I made to give you a sense of what went into it.
One of the things we talk about in the video is the O Antiphons, which to be honest I had never heard of until last year. I suspect many of you are unfamiliar with them too so I thought I would provide a little information here.
In the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours, Evening Prayer, also know as Vespers, always includes the Magnificat. Each day, the Magnificat is preceded by a short verse or “antiphon” that links the prayer to the feast of the day or the season of the year. In the last seven days of Advent (December 17-24), the antiphons before the Magnificat are very special. Each begins with the exclamation “O” and ends with a plea for the Messiah to come. As Christmas approaches the cry becomes increasingly urgent.
Most familiar today from the Advent hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” the seven traditional “O Antiphons” are actually more than a thousand years old. They have long been used at the very end of Advent (Dec. 17-23) Each Antiphon highlights a different title of the Messiah and also refers to the prophecy of Isaiah fortelling the coming of the Messiah. The great “O Antiphons” became very popular in the Middle Ages when it became traditional to ring the great bells of the church each evening as they were being sung.
Saying the O Antiphons as a family, whether during grace at meals, in front of the manger scene, or in front of the Christmas tree, is a wonderful Advent devotion. To make this devotion even more fruitful, read and meditate together on the Scripture texts on which the antiphons are based.
O Sapientia (Is. 11:2-3; 28:29): “O Wisdom, you come forth from the mouth of the Most High. You fill the universe and hold all things together in a strong yet gentle manner. O come to teach us the way of truth.”
O Adonai (Is. 11:4-5; 33:22): “O Adonai and leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai. O come and save us with your mighty power.”
O Radix Jesse (Is. 11:1, 10): “O stock of Jesse, you stand as a signal for the nations; kings fall silent before you whom the peoples acclaim. O come to deliver us, and do not delay.”
O Clavis David (Is. 9:6; 22:22): “O key of David and scepter of Israel, what you open no one else can close again; what you close no one can open. O come to lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.”
O Oriens (Is. 9:1): “O Rising Sun, you are the splendor of eternal light and the sun of justice. O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.”
O Rex Gentium (Is. 2:4; 9:5): “O King whom all the peoples desire, you are the cornerstone which makes all one. O come and save man whom you made from clay.”
O Emmanuel (Is. 7:14) : “O Emmanuel, you are our king and judge, the One whom the peoples await and their Savior. O come and save us, Lord, our God.”
You might like to download this O Antiphon Prayer Companion to help guide you through your exploration of this important prayers.