Tag Archives: Advent

The O Antiphons have meaning

Today, the monasteries around the world make their solemn entrance into the last week of preparation before Christmas. . .the first of the great O Antiphons begins to be sung at the time of the Magnificat. These beautiful antiphons, pregnant with meaning, are true bearers of Advent hope and joy.

In them, according to a French liturgist, the liturgy of Advent finds its fullness and plenitude. The O Antiphons are extremely significant to both the Advent and the monastic liturgy. The rich spiritual content of the antiphons is invaluable, starting with the one we solemnly sing today which opens : O Wisdom, O holy word of God’s mouth. . .

Br. Victor-Antoine D’Avila  Latourrette, OSB
A Monastery Journey to Christmas

O Antiphons

o-wisdomThe days before Christmas are typically marked by naming the titles that Jesus bears. The music for the antiphons is terrific. Each of the seven “O Antiphons” (also called the “Greater Antiphons” or “Major Antiphons”) come from the Magnificat antiphon for Vespers during the Octave before Christmas Eve, a time which is called the “Golden Nights.”

Each Antiphon begins with “O” and addresses Jesus with a unique title which comes from the prophecies of Isaiah and Micah, and whose initials, when read backwards, form an acrostic for the Latin “Ero Cras” which means “Tomorrow I come.” Those titles for Christ are:

Starting tonight, we begin with Sapientia; tomorrow and the days ahead we move on to: Adonai, Radix Jesse, Clavis David, Oriens, Rex Gentium, Emmanuel

The O Antiphons in both English and Latin:

December 17

Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence!

Latin
O Sapientia, quæ ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiæ.

December 18

Adonai, and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who didst appear unto Moses in the burning bush, and gavest him the law in Sinai, come to redeem us with an outstretched arm!

Latin
O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammæ rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

December 19

Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at Whom the kings shall shut their mouths, Whom the Gentiles shall seek, come to deliver us, do not tarry.

Latin
O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem Gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

December 20

Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth, come to liberate the prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

Latin
O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel; qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

December 21

Dayspring, Brightness of the everlasting light, Sun of justice, come to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!

Latin
O Oriens, splendor lucis æternæ, et sol justitiæ: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

December 22

King of the Gentiles, yea, and desire thereof! O Corner-stone, that makest of two one, come to save man, whom Thou hast made out of the dust of the earth!

Latin
O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.

December 23

Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!

Latin
O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus noster.

Advent waiting is twofold

We wait and wait for the Lord. We become very conscious of the waiting. It is an eager waiting, full of anticipation and wonder, for as with the prophets of old, our companions on the road, we long to see his face.

The Lord, of course, is very much aware of this patient waiting, of this deep yearning for him, and he is ever ready to come into our lives and fulfill our deepest desires. Advent waiting is always twofold. On our part, we await prayerfully, consciously, and anticipate his coming. On God’s part, he is eager to arrive and find a warm dwelling place in our hearts. The greater our desire and patience in waiting for him, the fuller we shall be filled with his presence.

If we learn to cultivate this inner attitude of waiting for him steadily, faithfully, not only during the Blessed Advent days, but throughout the whole of our lives, we shall likewise be rewarded with the grace, joy, and warmth of his real presence in the innermost of our hearts.

Monastery Journey to Christmas
Br. Victor-Antoine D’Avila-Latourrette OSB

Our Advent observance

The scriptures tell us that there is a time and season for everything, for each particular event. There is a time of preparing for Christmas, and that is Advent, and then there is a time for Christmas itself. There is no doubt in my mind that the more serious we are about our personal Advent journey, the greater the joy we shall reap during our Christmas celebration.

It is a good practice to make concrete plans on how best to keep our Advent observance. Often, if no plans are made in advance, much of Advent goes unnoticed and wasted. Since Advent is basically a quiet time of waiting for the arrival of the Light at Christmas, it is good to start by trying to become more internally quiet during this rather brief season.

Above all, we must make the most of these moments of stillness by remaining calm, silent, and spending quality time with the Lord. The words from one of the psalms counsel us: Be still, and know that I am God. Monks always strive to preserve a more quiet recollected spirit during these lovely Advent days and thus enjoy the Lord’s intimate company.

There is no reason why others, in a monastery or elsewhere, could not do the same wherever they are. It is a question of resolving to do so and making the effort. The Holy Spirit will do the rest. Come, Holy Spirit.

A Monastery Journey To Christmas
Br. Victor-Antoine D’Avila-Latourrette, OSB

Preparing for the Messiah: patiently waiting in Advent

During these blessed Advent days, we, too, are called to imitate the Israelites by cultivating an attitude of strong hope, patiently waiting as they did, for the arrival of the expected Messiah. The reading and prayers in the liturgy, especially the psalms, encourage us to “relive” Israel’s eager waiting for the Savior, and to do this in peace and joyful expectation. From the depths of our being we pray for Emanuel to come be with us and to save us.

Through our Christian faith we know that the Messiah, the Christ, has already come once and that he will come again, a second time, at the end of time. It is not a coincidence that today both pious Jews and fervent Christians are still awaiting his coming. Indeed we both have much in common. We are both waiting for the same Person!

When he comes, his coming shall be a first time for the Jewish people and second time for the Christians. However, for both Jews and Christians, in fact for all people, this shall be his last and final coming. Thus is our Advent hope and why we find great consolation in our common waiting. Veni, Emmanuel!” Come, Emmanuel!

Br. Victor-Antoine D’Avila Latourrette, OSB
A Monastery Journey to Christmas

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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