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Great “O” Antiphons

17 December 2009

Today (well, yesterday technically) begins the Golden Nights of Advent, when the liturgical longing for Christmas begins to express itself even more strongly through the anxious “O”s of the antiphons on the Magnificat (the Song of Mary) at Evening Prayer/Vespers. These Great “O”s became the basis for my favorite Advent carol, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”.

The Anglican Church, according to the Sarum Rite, starts the “O”s a day earlier than the Roman Church, adding an antiphon to Mary to the end. Dates listed are according to the Anglican rite.

December 16 (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.

December 17 (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.

December 18 (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.

December 19 (O Clavis David)
O Key of David and Scepter 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.

December 20 (O Oriens)
O Morning Star,
splendor of Light eternal and Sun of Righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the  shadow of death.

December 21 (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.

December 22 (O Emmanuel)
O Emmanuel, our King and our Lawgiver,
the Hope of the Nations and their Savior:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

December 23 (O Virgo virginum)
O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be?
Never before you was anyone like you, nor will anyone ever be.
Daughters of Jerusalem, why do you marvel at me?
The thing which you see is a divine mystery.

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