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O Antiphons

"Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14

The "O Antiphons" were first used by the Church in the 8th and 9th centuries. They are based on various titles used for the Christ and are scripturally-based short prayers used from the 17th to the 23rd of December. In the Roman Catholic Church they are the antiphons for the Vespers in the Office of the Day. In these "O Antiphons" the Church expresses her deep longing for the coming of the Messiah.

The Advent hymn "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is based on the "O Antiphons" and was written sometime during the 9th Century. The hymn, as can be seen below, begins with the last antiphon.
The Antiphons Advent Hymn Scriptural References Other Sites


The Antiphons

December 17
O WISDOM, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: COME, and teach us the way of prudence. Amen. "O Sapientia..."

December 18

O LORD AND RULER of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: COME, and redeem us with outstretched arms. Amen. "O Adonai..."

December 19

O ROOT OF JESSE, that stands for an ensign of the people, before whom the kings keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: COME, to deliver us, and tarry not. Amen. "O Radix Jesse..."

December 20

O KEY OF DAVID, and Sceptre of the House of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts and no man opens: COME, and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death. Amen. "O Clavis David..."

December 21

O DAWN OF THE EAST, brightness of light eternal, and Sun of Justice: COME, and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. Amen. "O Oriens..."

December 22

O KING OF THE GENTILES and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one: COME, and deliver man, whom you formed out of the dust of the earth. Amen. "O Rex..."

December 23

O EMMANUEL, God with us, Our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Saviour: COME to save us, O Lord our God. Amen. "O Emmanuel..."



O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Words: Latin: c. 9th Century
Tr. by John M. Neale
Tr. by Henry S. Coffin

Music: VENI EMMANUEL
Adapted from Plainsong, Mode I
Thomas Helmore
Netmidi is now playing the tune: "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."


O come, o come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.

CHORUS: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, O Wisdom from on high,
who orders all things mightily,
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

CHORUS: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, O come, thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai's height
In ancient times didst give the law
In cloud and majesty, and awe.

CHORUS: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, O Rod of Jesse free,
Thine own from Satan's tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o'er the grave

CHORUS: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

CHORUS: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer,
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.

CHORUS: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Desire of nations, bind,
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of peace.

CHORUS: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!



Scripture References

O Wisdom: Proverbs 1:20; 8; 9 and I Corinthians 1:30
O Lord and Ruler of the House of Israel: Exodus 3; Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:6
O Root of Jesse: Isaiah 11:10; Romans 15:12; Revelation 5:5
O Key of David: Isaiah 22:22; Revelation 3:7
O Dawn of the East (Dayspring): Luke 1:78, 79; Malachi 4:2
O King of the Gentiles (Nations): Revelation 15:3; Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 28:16; Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; Ephesians 2:20; I Peter 2:6
O Emmanuel: Isaiah 7:14; 8:8; Matthew 1:23; Haggai 2:7 (KJV)




Other Sites

True Christmas Spirit at EWTN contains some good info on the "O Antiphons" and their use in the home.
O Antiphons from Life site. Text in Latin and English with Real Audio samples of each antiphon.
The Antiphons Of Advent: with a page for each antiphon
What are The "O" Antiphons? by Father William Saunders

copyright - Charlene E. Fairchild 2002 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.
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