During the last days of Advent we reflect on the meaning of the first Christmas, that Christ’s birth brought salvation to his time, to our time and to all time. From December 17-24, the O Antiphons are used in the liturgical prayers of the church. The Antiphons name the Christ who came into our world to set us free. Most of us are familiar with the hymn, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” a hymn based on the O Antiphons. The seven traditional "O Antiphons" are actually more than a thousand years old. They have long been used as Antiphons for the "Magnificat" prayed during Evening Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours. Since the Second Vatican Council, they have also been adapted for the "Alleluia Verse" sung before the gospel at Mass. Each Antiphon invokes the coming of the Messiah, beginning with a biblical title and closing with a specific petition. As we journey through these last days of Advent may we use these Antiphons as our prayer to invite Jesus to come anew into our hearts and lives.
The O Antiphons
O Wisdom, O Holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.
O Sacred Lord of Ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.
O Flower of Jesse’s Stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples: kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.
O Key of David, O Royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of heaven: come break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.
O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of Justice: come, shine on those who dwell in the darkness and the shadow of death.
O King of the Nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the Mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.
O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people: come and set us free, Lord our God.