The O Antiphons refer to the seven Antiphons that are recited, or chanted, preceding the Magnificat during Evening Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours in the Breviary. The ‘O Antiphons’ are chanted in the verses of the famous Advent Hymn, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. They cover a special period of Advent preparation known as the Octave before Christmas, December 17 – 23. Each Antiphon addresses Jesus with a unique title which comes from the prophecies of Isaiah and Micah. The original Latin titles are: Sapientia, (O WISDOM), Adonai, (O LORD OF ISRAEL), Radix Jesse, (O ROOT OF JESSE), Clavis David, (O KEY OF DAVID), Oriens , (O RADIANT DAWN), Rex Gentium, (O KING OF ALL NATIONS), Emmanuel, (O GOD WITH US). Notice when they are read in reverse order, the first letter of each Antiphon forms the word, Eros Cras, which, when translated means, Tomorrow I will Come, referring to the birth of Christ. On the 24th Of December, Christmas Eve, the Church uses the prayers for the vigil of Christmas. The exact origin of these Antiphons is not known but it is thought that they were recited in the Benedictine Monasteries in France between 480 and 524. In the 8th Century, they were in use in Rome during liturgical celebrations. We can conclude that they have been an important part of our Advent liturgies for a long time. So the ‘O Antiphons’ not only bring intensity to our Advent celebrations and preparation, they bring the season of Advent to a joyful conclusion. I hope that you will enjoy praying these short antiphons in anticipation of the birth of Christ. They are said directly before praying the Magnificat, Mary’s Prayer of thanksgiving
ADVENT 3 – December 14, 2014
When John the Baptist announced the imminent coming of God's anointed one, the Messiah, the religious leaders questioned his authority to speak so boldly in God's name. They asked him bluntly, "Who are you?" and "What do you say about yourself?" They wanted to know if he was really sent by God. Did he claim to be the Messiah or one of the great prophets who was expected to return and announce the Messiah's arrival (see Malachi 4:5, Deuteronomy 18:15)? John had no doubt and no mistaken identity about his call and mission. In all humility and sincerity he said he was only a voice bidding people to get ready for the arrival of the greatest Ruler of all, God's anointed King and Messiah.
John the Baptist bridges the Old and New Testaments. He is the last of the Old Testament prophets who points the way to the Messiah. He is the first of the New Testament witnesses and martyrs. He is the herald who prepares the way for Jesus and who announces his mission to the people: Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! (John 1:29). John saw from a distance what the Messiah would come to accomplish - our redemption from slavery to sin and our adoption as sons and daughters of God, our heavenly Father. Do you recognize who you are in Christ? The Lord Jesus has come to restore us to friendship with God and he has made us citizens of heaven - his everlasting kingdom of peace and justice.
John was the greatest of the prophets, yet he lived as a humble and faithful servant of God. He pointed others to Jesus, the true Messiah and Savior of the world. The Christian church from the earliest of times has given John many titles which signify his mission: Witness of the Lord, Trumpet of Heaven, Herald of Christ, Voice of the Word, Precursor of Truth, Friend of the Bridegroom, Crown of the Prophets, Forerunner of the Redeemer, Preparer of Salvation, Light of the Martyrs, and Servant of the Word. Do you point others to Jesus Christ by the example and witness of your life?
“O” Antiphons begin on Wednesday, December 17th!