Friday, December 23, 2011

O Emmanuel

The last of the seven great Antiphons, O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.

O Immanuel, you are our king and judge,
the One whom the peoples await and their Saviour.
O come and save us, Lord, our God.
Isaiah prophesied:

"The Lord himself, therefore, will give you a sign. It is this: the maiden is with child and shall give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14)

Immanuel means "God is with us". 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

O Rex Gentium

The King of the Nations,  or O Rex Gentium, O Antiphon number 6.

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.

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.
Isaiah tells us:

"For there is a child been born for us, a son given to us and dominion is laid on his shoulders; and this is the name they give him: Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace." (Isaiah 9:5)

"He will wield authority over the nations, and adjudicate between many peoples; these will hammer their swords into ploughshares, their spears into sickles. Nation will not lift sword against nation, there will be no more training for war." Isaiah 2:4

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

O Oriens

O Antiphon number 5, O Oriens or O Rising Sun (Sunrise)


O Oriens,
splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Rising Sun,
you are the splendour of eternal light and the sun of justice.
O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
Isaiah tells us:

"The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone." (Isaiah 9:2)

Monday, December 19, 2011

O Radix Jesse

The third of the O Antiphons, O Radix Jesse or O stock of Jesse

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem Gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

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.
Isaiah says:

"A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse, a scion thrusts from his roots." (Isaiah 11:1)


"That day, the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples. It will be sought by the nations and its home will be glorious." (Isaiah 11:10)
    Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of David's line and be born in David's city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1)

    Sunday, December 18, 2011

    O Adonai

    The second of the O Antiphons, O Adonai 

    O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel,
    qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
    et ei in Sina legem dedisti:
    veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

    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.
    In Isaiah we read:

    "... but [He] judges the wretched with integrity, and with equity gives a verdict for the poor of the land. His word is a rod that strikes the ruthless, his sentences bring death to the wicked. Integrity is the loincloth round his waist, faithfulness the belt about his hips." (Isaiah 11:4-5)

    "For the Lord is our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king and our saviour." (Isaiah 33:22)

    Saturday, December 17, 2011

    O Sapienta

    The first of the O Antiphons. O Sapientia or O Wisdom.

    In Latin:
    O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,
    attingens a fine usque ad finem,
    fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:
    veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
    In English:
    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.

    In the prophecy of Isaiah we read:

    "On him the spirit of the Lord rests, a spirit of wisdom and insight, a spirit of counsel and power, a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord." (Isaiah 11:2).

    This prophecy is especially significant read with the Gospel of St John chapter 1, where we read in verses 1 - 3 "In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through him."

    and in verse 14 "The Word was made flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth."

    Isaiah's Lips Anointed with Fire

    Friday, December 16, 2011

    The O Antiphons

    As we enter the last week of Advent we begin to use the great "O" antiphons at Evening Prayer. Over the next few days I'll be reproducing a post for each day that I wrote two years ago. Here is the first:

    On 17 December we enter the Octave before Christmas and we use, at Vespers, the seven "O Antiphons". Each day until 24 December has a different one of the seven O Antiphons preceding the Magnificat.

    Fr William Saunders at Catholic Education says
    The exact origin of the O Antiphons is not known. Boethius (c. 480-524) made a slight reference to them, thereby suggesting their presence at that time. At the Benedictine abbey of Fleury (now Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire), these antiphons were recited by the abbot and other abbey leaders in descending rank, and then a gift was given to each member of the community. By the eighth century, they are in use in the liturgical celebrations in Rome. The usage of the “O Antiphons” was so prevalent in monasteries that the phrases, “Keep your O” and “The Great O Antiphons” were common parlance. One may thereby conclude that in some fashion the “O Antiphons” have been part of our liturgical tradition since the very early Church.

    The "O Antiphons" are important for two reasons. Firstly, each antiphon highlights a title for the Messiah, and secondly each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah telling of the coming of the Messiah.

    I hope to post the O Antiphon of the day, in Latin and English, each day from 17 to 24 December. The Latin will be as per the Breviarium Romanum and the English as per the The Divine Office translation as approved for use in England (and most other English speaking countries bar the US). Quotations from scripture will be as appear in The Jerusalem Bible.