by Alvin Bautista
This special period of Advent, the Octave before Christmas, spans December 17 to 23. which features the traditional recitation of the seven antiphons preceding the Magnificat during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours.
As Advent should also be a spiritual journey of hope and anticipation, it will be fitting that the "O Antiphons" be part of what might be considered amidst all the celebrations of the Season.
The exact origin of the "O Antiphons" is not known, but historians have referred to them as early as the fourth century. And by the eight century, they were in use in the liturgical celebrations in Rome. Their use, particularly in monasteries, became widespread that the phrases, "Keep your O" and "The Great O Antiphons" became part of common parlance. Thus, they have found a special place in the great liturgical tradition of early Mother Church.
I found the beauty of the "O Antiphons" in the titles they ascribe for the Messiah, which are in their correct chronological order:
O WISDOM (O SAPIENTA),
O LORD (O ADONAI),
O ROOT OF JESSE (O RADIX JESSE),
O KEY OF DAVID (O CLAVIS DAVID),
O RADIANT DAWN (O ORIENS),
O KING OF NATIONS (O REX GENTIUM) and
Each also refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the awaited Messiah.
Missionary friends from Detroit shared with me the history behind the "O Antiphons", in particular the Benedictine Monks who arranged these antiphons with a definite purpose and not arbitrarily. If one starts with the last title (Emmanuel) and take the first letter of each one, as in Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapienta, the Latin words "ERO CRAS" are formed. The incantation means, "TOMORROW, I WILL COME!", a great revelation that the Lord Jesus is promised and shall soon find fulfillment. So, through all this season of advent, the awaited Messiah , whom we have addressed in seven Messianic titles, now clearly speaks to us, "TOMORROW, I WILL COME!". And true to His promise and in fulfillment of the Sacred Scriptures, Emmanuel means “God is with us.”
HAVE A BLESSED ADVENT.
THE O ANTIPHONS
December 17 O WISDOM (O SAPIENTA)
O Holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.
December 18 O SACRED LORD (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.
December 19 O FLOWER OF JESSE'S STEM (O RADIX JESSE)
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.
December 20 O KEY OF DAVID (O CLAVIS 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.
December 21 O RADIANT DAWN (O ORIENS)
Splendor of eternal light, sun and justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death
December 22 O KING OF ALL THE NATIONS (O REX GENTIUM)
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.
December 23 O EMMANUEL, KING AND LAWGIVER
Desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our GOD.
ERO CRAS: TOMORROW, I WILL COME.
“KEEP YOUR O!”
A BLESSED CHRISTMAS TO EVERYONE.