O Antiphons, an Advent Prayer

The O Antiphons, which are prayed as part of Vespers from December 17 -23, are some of the prophecies of Our Lord's coming...His Advent.

They are also a great addition, if you don't happen to say Vespers, to the beginning of your daily Rosary from the 17th through the 23rd, in great anticipation as the time draws near for Christ's birthday.

"Ero cras ~ Tomorrow I will come" ~ The prase that is spelt out if you take the first letter of each Antiphon starting with the last.

The titles, which correspond with each prophesy are titles of Our Lord:
O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
O Adonai (O Lord)
O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
O Clavis David (O Key of David)
O Oriens (O Rising Sun)
O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)and
O Emmanuel (O Emmanuel, God is with us)

The O Antiphons relay such a spirit of joy, that in Europe there used to be a celebration of the Golden Nights, as was the novena of the Golden Mass, the Ember Wednesday's Mass for 9 days before Christmas. It was a time of festivity celebrating Our Lady in her final time of 'expectancy'! This is just another example of how Advent is not nearly as penitential as Lent, with Holy Mother the Church allowing us to express our joy in the anticipation of Christ's coming.

The Greater Antiphons:

Dec. 17 Antiphon: "O Wisdom, who camest out of the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come and teach us the way of prudence" ~Ecclus 24:5; Wisd 8:1

Dec. 18 Antiphon: "O Adonai, and Leader of the house of Israel, who didst appear to Moses in the flame of the burning bush, and didst give unto him the law on Sinai: come and with outstretched arm and redeem us" ~Ex 3:2, 20:1

Dec. 19 Antiphon: "O Root of Jesse, who standest for an ensign of the people, before whom kings shall keep silence, and unto whom the Gentiles shall make their supplication: come to deliver us, and tarry not" ~Is 11:10

Dec. 20 Antiphon: "O Key of David and Sceptre of the house of Israel, who openest and no man shutteth, who shuttest and no man openeth: come and bring forth from the prison-house, the captive that sitteth in darkness and in the shadow of death" ~Is 22:22; Apoc 3:7; Lk1:79

Dec. 21 Antiphon: "O Dawn of the East, Brightness of light eternal, and Sun of Justice, come and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death" ~Ps 106:10

Dec. 22 Antiphon: "O King of the Gentiles and the desired of them, Thou cornerstone that makest both one, come and deliver man, whom Thou didst form out of the dust of the earth" ~Agg 2:8; Eph 2:14,20

Dec. 23 Antiphon: "O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Saviour, come to save us, O Lord our God" ~Is 7:14, 33:22

During the actual service of Vespers, the O Antiphons are sung just before and just after the Magnificat. What a wonderful time of year to recite both!

The Magnificat

When reciting these verses, you may wish to say the verse, then the Magnificat then repeat the verse again. This follows the manner in which they are said in Vespers.

My soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid;
for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because he that is mighty,
hath done great things to me;
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is from generation unto generations,
to them that fear him.
He hath shewed might in his arm:
he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat,
and hath exalted the humble.
He hath filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath received Israel his servant,
being mindful of his mercy:
As he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his seed for ever.

The recitation of these Antiphons help us remember that there is, unlike Lent, joy present with the anticipation of the coming of Christ and that our preparations can be happy and exciting, not somber like in Lent. No sack cloth and ashes here! ;-)

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