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O! Christmas is near…
Posted By Eric Sammons On December 17, 2009 @ 4:00 am In Jesus Christ,Spirituality | Comments Disabled
Today is December 17th, which means that we are in the final seven days of Advent – a time with deep liturgical significance. The readings at Mass are no longer from the 3rd or 4th week of Advent, but are specific to the date. Likewise, the prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours are also specific to the date. And, of course, today we begin one of my favorite traditions, the O Antiphons :
The seven antiphons to the Magnificat in the ferial Office of the seven days preceeding the vigil of Christmas; so called because all begin with the interjection “O”. Their opening words are:
(1) “O Sapientia”,
(2) “O Adonai”,
(3) “O Radix Jesse”,
(4) “O Clavis David”,
(5) “O Oriens”,
(6) “O Rex Gentium”,
(7) “O Emmanuel”.
Addressed to Christ under one or other of His Scriptural titles, they conclude with a distinct petition to the coming Lord (e.g.: “O Wisdom … come and teach us the way of prudence”; “O Adonai … come and redeem us by thy outstretched arm”; “O Key of David … come and lead from prison the captive sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death” etc.). Couched in a poetic and Scriptural phraseology they constitute a notable feature of the Advent Offices.
These antiphons are properly said during Vespers, but many families [including mine] simply recite them in the evening independent of the full Vespers prayers. I have always been attracted to contemplating the titles given to Christ (so much that I even wrote a book about it!), and this devotion is a wonderful way to prepare for Christ’s coming at Christmas.
I encourage everyone to say these prayers the next seven days. Here is one version in full (source ):
O Sapientia: “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” (11:2-3), and “Wonderful is His counsel and great is His wisdom.” (28:29).
O Adonai: “O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.” Isaiah had prophesied, “But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.” (11:4-5); and “Indeed the Lord will be there with us, majestic; yes the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save us.” (33:22).
O Radix Jesse: “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.” Isaiah had prophesied, “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” (11:1), and A On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.” (11:10). Remember also that Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in David’s city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1).
O Clavis David: “O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.” Isaiah had prophesied, AI will place the Key of the House of David on His shoulder; when he opens, no one will shut, when he shuts, no one will open.” (22:22), and “His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David’s throne, and over His kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever.” (9:6).
O Oriens: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.” (9:1).
O Rex Gentium: “O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.” Isaiah had prophesied, “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” (9:5), and “He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” (2:4) .
O Emmanuel: “O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The Lord himself will give you this sign: the Virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”
O come our Savior!
Article printed from Divine Life – A Blog by Eric Sammons: http://ericsammons.com/blog
URL to article: http://ericsammons.com/blog/2009/12/17/o-christmas-is-near/
URLs in this post:
 O Antiphons: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11173b.htm
 source: http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0374.html
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