Today we begin praying the "O Antiphons," ancient prayers usually chanted before the Magnificat from December 17-23 during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours.
Each prayer begins with "O" and refers to one of the Messianic gifts of the Spirit mentioned in Is. 11:1-3.
- A popular version of these meditations is sung throughout Christendom during Advent: "Veni Veni Emmanuel, (O Come, O Come Emmanuel)," a hymn dating back to 8th C. monasticism. Its words and melody resonate deeply with the human longing for liberation from the darkness of evil and rebirth into Light. Even Manheim Steamroller includes this hymn in one of its Christmas albums, and does it proper justice!
There are other renditions of the O Antiphons, and this one by the Dameans is my favorite. Daryl Ducote (an old friend) is marvelous chanting the opening words of each antiphon, and the melody captures the spirit of Advent. YouTube link below; give it a listen.
(If you let the album play, the next song, "Come, O Lord" is in the same spirit.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6S8ujTS2qQgThis message has been edited. Last edited by: Phil,
oantiphons.jpg (192 Kb, 7 downloads) o Antiphons
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.
Jesus identified himself with truth (Jn 14:6).
He also said his followers would know the truth, and the truth would set them free (Jn 8:31-32).
In a world growing increasingly cynical about whether truth can be known, let us pray that this gift of the Spirit will be given to us in abundance. And let us do our part to study, to reflect, and to dialogue with others in a spirit of humility, that the truth might reveal itself and grant us wisdom and right judgment. Then will we be in right alignment with the Power that holds together the universe and all its parts (Col. 1:15-20).
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.
The Mosaic covenant emphasized a relationship of justice based on Law, which points us toward the fire of a freedom rooted in justice. Such a flame burns in God and those who love God's ways, without exhausting their passion for justice. Christ noted this when he said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (Mt 5:6)." May this fire be kindled in our minds and hearts.
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.
Jesse was the father of David, greatest of the kings of Israel, who received the prophecy of a Messianic successor. Unlike David, Jesus had no palace or earthly kingdom, no soldiers, no gold. Yet his birth divides history, his return is longed for. Come, Lord Jesus, come.
O key of David and sceptre of Israel, what you open no one else can close again; what you close, no one can open. O come and lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
Christ is the key of David, who unlocks the blessings promised of old.
In him, the fullness of God resides in human form (Col. 2:9).
In relating to him, we contact divinity itself.
No power of darkness can separate us from him (Rm. 8:38-39), for he has conquered evil and death itself.
O Jesus, we trust in you.
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.
Jesus is the Light of the world (Jn 8:12). In the light of his love and truth, the darkness within us is exposed, and this can feel threatening. If we open ourselves to His light, however, we are healed of our sinfulness and reborn as children of Light (Eph 5:8).
Light of Christ, shine in my heart this day.
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.
In ancient times, a cornerstone was a solid rock used as a foundation for building -- a stable basis for aligning the structure. In numerous places, Jesus is referred to as cornerstone of the church, and the sure foundation of our lives. Without his stabilizing influence, we flounder and lose our vision.
Jesus, be the foundation of our lives.
O Immanuel, you are our king and our judge, the One whom the peoples await and their Saviour.
O come and save us, Lord our God.
Immanuel means "God-with-us," an apt summary of the meaning of the Incarnation. In Jesus, the Word took to itself a human soul and became flesh in the womb of Mary. Henceforth, divine life is directly infused into the human species and (by extension) the rest of the space-time universe through Jesus. He is the new Adam, the first-born of the new creation (Col 1:15), which unfolds now through his mediation. In faith, hope and love, we are reborn in the life of his Spirit. Such an amazing plan! Who, but God, would think of it?
Open our hearts and minds to your salvation, dear Immanuel.
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