These Great Antiphons help us to prepare a place for Jesus Christ, so that He might lay upon the straw of all our desires
The neighborhoods which dot the Potomac River are brightly lit now. Christmas lights seem to appear steadily throughout the weeks of Advent. How they appear is mostly hidden from view. Some homes are almost impossibly illuminated, replete with inflatable snowmen, minions, or, more tastefully, nutcrackers. Many surely light up their homes as a kind of manufactured anticipation, a secular advent for restless desire. Yet for others, the external lights are but signs of an interior hope.
For many centuries, the Church has spent this last week of Advent illuminating the heart by those interior lights called the Great “O” Antiphons. They begin tonight, and you can participate in them. If you do, they will enlighten the rooflines of your soul as they have done since the fifth century (according to Boethius) and certainly since the eighth century.
The Great “O” Antiphons — named for that perfect letter with which each antiphon begins — are recited or chanted before and after the Magnifcat at Vespers from December 17-23. Seven antiphons for the seven last days of Advent are filled with ancient longing for Christ.
Wikipedia: “Each antiphon is a name of Christ, one of his attributes mentioned in Scripture. They are:”
17 December: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
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.
18 December: O Adonai (O Lord)
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.
19 December: O Radix Jesse (O Root of 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.
20 December: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
O Key of David and sceptre 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.
21 December: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
O Morning Star,
splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
22 December: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.
23 December: O Emmanuel (O With Us is God)
O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.