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The "O" Antiphons


The seven "O Antiphons" are sung at Evening Prayer during the Octave before Christmas Eve, a time which is called the "Golden Nights."


Each Antiphon begins with "O" and addresses Jesus with a unique title which comes from the prophecies of Isaiah and Micah. Those titles for Christ are:


O Sapientia - December 17:  “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.”


O Adonai - December 18: “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.”


O Radix Jesse: - Demember 19:  “O Root of Jesse’s stem, 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.”


O Clavis David: - December 20: “O Key of 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.”


O Oriens:  - December 21: “O Rising Sun, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.”


O Rex Gentium: - December 22: “O King of all the nations, 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.”


O Emmanuel: - December 23: “O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.


December 24:  Centuries ago the Benedictine monks arranged these antiphons with a definite purpose in mind. On December 24th the monk would start with the last title and take the first letter of each one - Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia – and read the Latin words Ero Cras, meaning, “Tomorrow, I will come.” Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for during Advent and whom we have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now assures us He will soon be here. These “O Antiphons” not only bring intensity to our Advent preparation, they also bring it to a joyful conclusion.




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