The ‘O ANTIPHONS’
Advent week 3 – December 16-17, 2017
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 – 24. 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. I have included this prayer for you with the insert of fridge prayers for week four of Advent.