Putting the “O” in Advent

“O Wisdom, proceeding out of the mouth of the Most High…come and teach us the way of prudence.”
– the O-Antiphon for 16 Dec.

At Vespers this past Friday evening (for those of the Western Tradition) the O-Antiphons began. These fairly ancient verses are, by custom, chanted (or recited) right before the “Magnificat” at Vespers. Sung each evening from 16 Dec. through 23 Dec., these antiphons
celebrate some attribute of the One whose birth we will soon commemorate – Christ the Wisdom of God, Christ the Lawgiver and Redeemer of Israel, Christ David’s heir, Christ the Harrower of Hell et al. While many Catholics and Protestants may not be familiar (any more) with the Antiphons in their Divine Office form, they will surely be familiar with the hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” each verse of which is a paraphrase of an antiphon.

As an enhancement to daily devotions, whether alone or with others, I will, starting today, write out each antiphon for that day’s Vespers in both Latin and English. I hope that they will be a meaningful addition to your daily prayers. (There is absolutely no reason why an Orthodox Christian or a Byzantine Catholic may not use these Antiphons too. A suggested place to insert them would be either right after the Trisagion Prayers or as antiphons before the evening Psalms.)

For Vespers, Sunday, 17 Dec.:

O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moyse in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
et in ei in Sina legem dedisti: Veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

O Adonai, leader of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush and gave the Law on Sinai’s height: Come to redeem us with outstretched arm!