Sunday, December 18, 2011

The O Antiphons - Explanation and O Sapientia

I was so very determined to post about this little-remembered part of Advent, and I still completely forgot until today.  I guess the phrase "little-remembered" is all too apt for my own good.

First let me explain a little about the O Antiphons, also called the Greater Antiphons or Major Antiphons.  Antiphons are short prayers from Vespers, and the "greatest" of them are the antiphons for the octave before Christmas Eve - in other words, they start on the 17th of December and end on the 23rd.  They all being with "O" (hence the name), and they each address Our Lord by a unique title which comes from the prophecies of Micheas and Isaias.  Even if you've never heard of them, they should sound a bit familiar: the verses of O Come, O Come Emmanuel are based on them.

The titles form an acrostic which, read backward, form the Latin words "Ero Cras", which means "Tomorrow I Come":

Radix Jesse
Clavis David
Rex Gentium


Isn't that cool?

Now.  Yesterday's antiphon was "O Sapientia":

Click to enlarge

English translation:  O Wisdom! Thou came forth from the mouth of the Most High and, reaching from beginning to end, Thou ordered all things mightily and sweetly. Come, and teach us the way of prudence.

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