Advent: December 2009 Archives
O King of Great Counsel, You joined Your admirable power with the prudence of human judgment when You, the Mighty and All-Powerful God, fled into Egypt from the face of Herod. We beseech You, through Your Pure Nativity and through the intercession of Your Mother and Saint Joseph, Your Chosen One, to grant us good judgment in all our actions, that we may think and act wisely all the days of our lives as we subject ourselves to Your divine service. Amen.
Bethlehem, make ready,
for Eden has been opened for all.
Ephrathah, be alert,
for the Tree of Life has blossomed forth
from the Virgin in the cave.
Her womb has become a spiritual paradise
wherein the Divine Fruit was planted,
and if we eat of it,
we shall live and not die like Adam.
Christ is coming forth to bring back to life
the likeness that had been lost in the beginning.
Bethlehem, make ready, for Eden has been opened for all!
(a Byzantine poetic text for the time before the Nativity of the Lord)
O Wine of Virgins and Lily of Purity, Who by a touch of Your hand heals the body and cleanses the soul; Who by dwelling in the womb of Your Mother has made her the purest of the pure and most admirable among virgins; We beseech You, through Your Pure Nativity and through the intercession of Your Mother and Saint Joseph, Your Chosen One, to grant us to be pure in soul and body and clean in act clean and thought, that we may serve You with a clean heart and pure body all the days of our lives. Amen.
O Admirable Leader Who gains the obedience of Your people not by the severity of Your judgment but by the sweetness of Your love and Your welcome sojourn among us. We beseech You, through Your Pure Nativity and through the intercession of Your Mother and Saint Joseph, Your Chosen One, to teach us complete obedience to Your holy commandments and to submit to our superiors, not for fear of punishment but by a willing surrender of mind and heart, with gladness of heart and spirit. Amen.
O Hope of the Patriarchs and longing of the Gentiles, in Your Nativity You have granted us hope. The joy of this hope has called together the Shepherds, the Magi and all believers in Your Holy Name, and led them to adore You with all the acclaim of their hearts. We beseech You, through Your Pure Nativity and through the intercession of Your Virgin Mother and Saint Joseph, Your Chosen One, to keep us, by Your grace, from attachment to earthly goods. Teach us not to depend only on ourselves and the weak ones of this world, but to rely only on Your Fatherly direction and Your Divine Providence. Attract our hearts and minds to reflect on Your heavenly riches and to aspire and long for them above. Amen.
Advent slightly shifts its focus beginning tomorrow (December 17) when the antiphons for Vespers known as the Greater Antiphons, but more commonly known as the O Antiphons, are sung.
These biblical texts are sung as the verse introducing the Magnificat song at Vespers. Most people know these Great Antiphons as the hymn called "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" (Veni, Veni, Emmánuël). Each verse of the hymn is a reworded version of the O Antiphons, with the last being the first verse. Rather unfortunately too many priests and church musicians/choir leaders have little understanding of why one would hold off from signing "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" at Mass until this time of Advent, and even then, why one would spread the verses out over the days ahead. (I wonder if we can get our act together to respect the Liturgy and its history to allow the flourishing of the theology to dig more deeply into our hearts and minds.)
Each O Antiphon addresses Jesus with a title which comes from the prophecies of Isaiah that anticipate the coming of the Messiah. The first letters of the titles in the original Latin in reverse order spell "Ero Cras," meaning "Tomorrow, I will come."
December 17 - O Sapiéntia: O Wisdom Who camest out of 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.
December 18 - O Adonái: O Adonai, and Leader of the house of Israel, Who didst appear to Moses in the flame of the burning bush, and didst give unto him the law on Sinai: come and with an outstretched arm redeem us.
December 19 - O Radix Jesse: O Root of Jesse, Who standest for an ensign of the people, before Whom kings shall keep silence, and unto Whom the Gentiles shall make their supplication: come to deliver us, and tarry not.
December 20 - O Clavis David: O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, Who openest and no man shutteth, Who shuttest and no man openeth: come and bring forth from his prison-house, the captive that sitteth in darkness and in the shadow of death.
December 21 - O Óriens: O Dawn of the East, Brightness of the light eternal, and Sun of justice: come and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
December 22 - O Rex Gentium: O King of the Gentiles and the Desired of them, Thou Corner-stone that makest both one: come and deliver man, whom Thou didst form out of the dust of the earth.
December 23 - O Emmánuël: O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of the nations and their Savior: come to save us, O Lord our God.