Since learning about them from this post from The Homely Hours, I’ve been reading up on the O Antiphons. An Antiphon, in traditional Western Christian liturgy, is a short sentence sung or recited before or after a psalm or canticle (and a canticle is a hymn or chant, typically with a biblical text, forming a regular part of a church service).
I also listened to the podcast Speaking with Joy this week (Advent, The Coming, Week 1) and she explained that the O Antiphons, are antiphons all starting with ‘O’ (hence the name) and were sung in monastic communities in the last 7 days before Advent since at least the 6th Century. They are all titles of Christ; Wisdom, Adonai, Root of Jesse, Key of David, Morning Star, King of the Nations, Emmanuel and the latin phrases create an acrostic E-R-O-C-R-A-S which is a phrase in Latin “Tomorrow I will be there”. This season of Advent has been celebrated for at least 1500 years. It is amazing to think that there were people longing to worship and anticipate Christ during this season throughout history.
On Sunday it was the 2nd Sunday of Advent and we sung O Come, O Come Emmanuel at Church. Joy explained the connection between this song and the O Antiphons. Have a read of the O Antiphons then have a listen to my favourite version of the hymn.
The O Antiphons
17 December – O Sapientia
O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other mightily,
and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.
cf Ecclesiasticus 24.3; Wisdom 8.1
18 December – O Adonai
O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush
and gave him the law on Sinai:
Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.
cf Exodus 3.2; 24.12
19 December – O Radix Jesse
O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.
cf Isaiah 11.10; 45.14; 52.15; Romans 15.12
20 December – O Clavis David
O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;
you open and no one can shut;
you shut and no one can open:
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,
those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
cf Isaiah 22.22; 42.7
21 December – O Oriens
O Morning Star,
splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death.
cf Malachi 4.2
22 December – O Rex Gentium
O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.
cf Isaiah 28.16; Ephesians 2.14
23 December – O Emmanuel
O Emmanuel, our King and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.
cf Isaiah 7.14
O Come, O Come Emmanuel by Selah
Advent & Christmas Playlist
I have created a Spotify Playlist with a range of traditional and contemporary versions of songs (from Taize to Hillsong). It’s called Ancient Future Advent and you can find it here. I tried to even out the old and the new, but it’s probably best if you just play on shuffle! I took some inspiration from the playlist Advent with Sacred Ordinary Days and this list from The Homely Hours, but I threw in some contemporary worship bands and some music from the 90’s. Oh and David Phelps, Selah a little bit of Whitney. Enjoy!
Rachael is Currently…
Sitting in a cafe drinking a weak soy latte while my baby sleeps, determined to publish a blog post today!
Reading Unearthly Beauty by Magdalen Smith, which is a journey through Advent with the Saints. Very different style to what I’m used to, but I’m enjoying it.
Decorating the house for Christmas, including making these O Antiphon ornaments from The Homely Hours. They are featured in my blog post image.
Looking forward to the warm day tomorrow (33 degrees!) and the possibility of going to the beach.