Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Great Antiphons of the Octave Before Christmas

If you have a devotion to the Liturgy of the Hours, you may find this intriguing - and even if you don't have a devotion to the Liturgy of the Hours, you may still want to read and learn a thing or two! The "Great Antiphons" also known as the "O Antiphons" (titled as such because each antiphon begins with the exclamation "O!" began this Friday. The Great Antiphons are seven antiphons for the Magnificat at Vespers, and are said during the octave preceding the vigil of Christmas. Each one of these antiphons addresses Christ by one of the titles given Him in the Sacred Scriptures. These antiphons are wonderful meditations to help us prepare for the coming of Christ. In the words of the great liturgist, Dom Gueranger, "Let us enter into the spirit of the Church; let us reflect on the great day which is coming; that thus we may take our share in these the last and most earnest solicitations of the Church imploring her Spouse to come, to which He at length yields."


The First Antiphon, December 17th
O Sapientia, qun ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, 
attingens a fine usque ad finem fortiter, suaviterque disponens omnia; 
veni, ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

O Wisdom, that proceedest from the mouth of the Most High, 
reaching from end to end mightily, and disposing all things sweetly 
come and teach us the way of prudence.


The Second Antiphon, December 18th
O Adonai, et dux dominus Israel,
qui Moyse in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
et ei in Sina legem dedisti :
veni ad redimendum nos in barchio extento.
O Mighty Lord and leader of the house of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the burning bush,
and on Sinai gave him the law,
come to redeem us with outstretched arm.

The Third Antiphon, December 19th
O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem gentes deprecabuntur: 
veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.
O Root of Jesse, who stand as a sign for the people,
kings stand silent in your presence,
whom the nations will worship:

come to set us free, put it off no longer.


The Fourth Antiphon, December 20th
O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel,
qui aperis, et nemo claudit, claudis, et nemo aperuit:
veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris,
sedentem in tenebris et umbra mortis.
O Key of David, and sceptre of the house of Israel,
who open and no one shuts, who shut and no one opens:
come and bring out the captive from the prison-house, 
him who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death.







The Fifth Antiphon, December 21st
O Oriens, 
splendor lucis aeternae et sol iustitiae: 
vei, et illumina sedentes in tenebris et umbra.
O Dayspring, 
splendor of Eternal Light and Sun of Justice:
Come, and enlighten those that sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death. 


The Sixth Antiphon, December 22nd
O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, 
lapisque angularis,
qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem, quem di limo formasti.
O King of the Gentiles and the Desired of all nations,
You are the cornerstone that binds two into one.
Come, and bring wholeness to man whom you fashioned out of clay.


The Seventh Antiphon, December 23rd
O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, 
exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: 
veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus noster.
Emmanuel, Our King and Lawgiver,
the expectation of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.


For more on the Great Antiphons, please see Dom Mark Daniel Kirby's blog, Vultus Christi, and the blog New Liturgical Movement. The painting is Murillo's The Annunciation.

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