December 6, 2016

O Antiphons Overview

O Antiphons

The liturgical season of Advent has two parts, both of which look to the coming of the Lord. The first part of Advent, which immediately follows the feast of Christ the King and ends on December 16, looks to his second coming — the return of Jesus at the end of time. The second part of Advent begins on December 17 and is the Novena leading up to the feast of the Nativity of our Lord. In the second half of Advent, the Church places itself once again in the era anticipating the Lord’s birth in Bethlehem — looking forward to his first coming. Our attention shifts from the One who is to come to the One who has already come in the flesh. This second part of Advent is another period of intense training. ...

The importance of O Antiphons is twofold: each one highlights a title for the long-awaited Messiah by the Jewish people: 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. Also, each one references the Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah. The antiphons have been referred to as a collage of Old Testament types of Christ, given by the Israelite prophets who were the first to teach us how to wait for the coming of the Savior. Their predominant theme stresses the hope of the Savior’s coming in fulfilling his promises. The sequence progresses historically, from the beginning, before creation, to the very gates of Bethlehem.

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." (Isaiah 11:2-3)

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." (Isaiah 11:4-5)

December 19:

"O Flower 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." (Isaiah 11:10)

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." (Isaiah 22:22)

December 21:

"O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death." (Isaiah 9:1)

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." (Isaiah 9:5)

December 23:

"O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God." (Isaiah 7:14)

Fr. Daniel White, "Praying the ‘O Antiphons’", Vermont Catholic (December 2010).

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